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Garuda crash pilot faces life imprisonment -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Garuda Airlines pilot who crash-landed a passenger jet in Yogyakarta last year
has said he's deeply sorry about the deaths of 21 of his passengers.

Captain Marwoto Komar faces the prospect of life imprisonment if he's found guilty at his trial
which begins today.

Indonesia correspondent Geoff Thompson is at the court in Yogyakarta and joins us now.

So Geoff, what has happened so far at the court today?

GEOFF THOMPSON: I can tell you that the trial has just got under way. An indictment is being read
out.

But about half an hour ago captain, or former captain Marwoto Komar turned up at court,
interestingly wearing a pilot's uniform. He sort of stopped and sat down in a building adjacent to
the court and faced the media. And what he said essentially when asked how he felt about facing
this trial and potential charges which could attract life imprisonment, he said, "I'm ready, I'm
ready".

Now, asked about how he felt about the deaths of 21 people he said, "I'm deeply mourning".

And of course there was some curiosity as to why he was wearing a pilot's uniform. He said, "I'm a
pilot, that's my life". And he even said that he hopes he will fly again.

ELEANOR HALL: There has been some criticism that he is the one seeming to bear the brunt for this
crash. What is he charged with?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look he's charged with about five charges with other subsidiary charges, most of
them based around criminal negligence allegations, that is that he negligently and recklessly flew
a plane in a dangerous way.

And we must remember that this plane was flown at almost twice the normal speed. He ignored 15
automated warnings and the entreaties of his co-pilot to go around and attempt the landing again.
Now they're alleging that was criminally negligent.

Now, the most serious charge is one of deliberately crashing the plane and causing the deaths of
people and that is the serious charge that will attract a sentence of life, it could attract a
sentence of life imprisonment if he's found guilty.

ELEANOR HALL: Did he give any indication of how he'll defend himself against that charge in
particular?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well what he seems to have said to police who were investigating this, he said to
them that he had no choice but to land the plane the way he did.

He said there was a problem with the stability flaps at the back of the plane and the plane was
running wildly and out of control, and that he tried to get the nose up but couldn't and he had no
other choice but to touch down.

Now his lawyer, which interestingly is also the same lawyer used by Abu Bakar Bashir, Mohammad
Assegaf, he said outside the court today that the freezing of Marwoto Komar's flying license is
already a huge sentence for him.

ELEANOR HALL: And how many witnesses are expected to appear at this trial Geoff?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well there's quite a few and there's mention of three Australian, at least three
Australian witnesses.

There's no indication yet of whether they will actually appear but they include a couple of Royal
Australian Air Force pilots who were on that plane and another man who was injured very badly in
that crash, along with I think about 20 other witnesses that are apparently going to be called. But
we won't know of course wether they will actually appear until they do.

ELEANOR HALL: Geoff Thompson at the court in Yogyakarta, thank you. That's Geoff Thompson our
Indonesia correspondent.