Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Sisters of Bingley former soldier demand answers over Afghan disaster
The family of a soldier turned bodyguard who was killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan more than two years ago is still battling for a full explanation as to what led to the disaster.
Rebecca Lake, said her family was being “kept in the dark” despite an on-going fight for justice for her brother Daniel Saville, 40, a former Coldstream guard, who was among three Britons who perished when Pamir Airways Flight 1102 crashed north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 17, 2010.
Mr Saville, who grew up in Wilsden , Haworth and Allerton , Bradford, had been only a few weeks away from his return to Britain from working as a private security contractor for a US government agency trying to combat the cultivation of heroin.
A damning official report blaming the failure of the aircraft’s captain and Afghan air traffic control for causing the disaster has been obtained from the Foreign Office by the Telegraph & Argus using the Freedom of Information Act.
But Mrs Lake, 45, of Clayton Heights , Bradford, has made a fresh plea to the authorities to keep her family fully informed of developments as lawyers continue a compensation battle in the US for the British victims of the doomed plane which had been flying on false documents.
She said that, despite investigations in the war-torn country, it had been “difficult” for the Afghan authorities to fully investigate and bring to justice those who were to blame for causing her brother’s death.
The family has also been told that Global Security, the company he was working for at the time, had refused to pay out his life insurance.
Mrs Lake said: “We really have no idea about what is going on. As far as we are concerned, everything is at a standstill.
“We really do not think that we are going to get any answers. There has been fault admitted somewhere, just not to us. We have not even had an apology or explanation.
“The family has been kept in the dark.”
The tragedy happened when the civilian aircraft, on a domestic flight from Kundaz to Kabul, crashed in rain and fog, obscuring the peaks of the mountainous Shakardara area, with the authorities initially blaming the bad weather.
However, the official report, produced by the US Civil Aviation Assistance Team at the US Embassy in Kabul, revealed that the “probable cause of this accident was the failure of the captain to maintain adequate clearance from terrain” causing the Antonov AN-24 plane to crash.
A contributing factor was the lack of “regulatory oversight” by the Afghan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation’s Flight Safety Department (MoTCA), which should have prevented the pilot flying below a safe altitude.
The air traffic controller in Bagram also failed to correct the pilot when he continued his descent, despite the plane – which was flying on forged documents – disappearing off the air traffic control radar, according to the report.
The report states: “It is also possible that the flight crew visually saw the rapidly-rising terrain moments before impact and attempted to out-climb the ridgeline of the mountains.”
Pamir Airways’ licence was temporarily revoked and there was uncertainty over whether its liability was covered by insurance. It is now understood to be operating again under a different owner.
Families of the 29 Afghan victims who died have received $11,000 each but none of the families of the British victims has had a pay-out.
Their case is being fought by Irwin Mitchell solicitors, which is representing Mr Saville’s partner, Chioma Ibe, who lives in London, as well as the families of the other British and Afghan nationals who lost loved ones in the Pamir Airlines crash.
Irwin Mitchell spokesman Rob Dixon said legal proceedings had begun in the US against “several US-based defendants” on behalf of all of its clients.
However, Mrs Lake said the family understood that the cause would not be heard for at least another year “if at all”.
Mr Dixon said: “It is in the early stages and unfortunately due to sensitivities related to the case we’re unable to give any further details at this time.”
Hundreds of mourners packed into Bingley All Saints Parish Church two years ago to celebrate the life of Mr Saville, who was nicknamed “Jimmy” by his army pals.
At the time, Miss Ibe described him as “the perfect gentleman.”