DUSSELDORF –– Analysis of a tablet device belonging to Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz shows he researched suicide methods on the Internet in the days leading up to the crash, a German prosecutor said today.
Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said that on one day Lubitz also “searched for several minutes with search terms relating to cockpit doors and their security measures”.
Police analysis of the correspondence and search history on the device, retrievedfrom Lubitz’s Dusseldorf apartment, demonstrated that the co-pilot used it from March 16 to March 23, Kumpa said.
The search history was not deleted and also revealed searches concerning medical treatment, the prosecutor said.
Lubitz is suspected of deliberately bringing down Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 on board. Investigators have since focused on his health as they try to establish his motivation.
Noting he has made a criminal request to German authorities but is for now conducting his own investigation, the prosecutor in Marseille, France, said he is tasked with an involuntary homicide investigation. But prosecutor Brice Robin noted that Lubitz made voluntary actions –– such as guiding the plane toward the mountain and reducing its speed to prevent alarms from going off –– and was “alive and conscious” to the very end.
A European official government official with detailed knowledge of the investigation said that Lubitz’s actions amounted to ”premeditated murder”.
While cautioning that there were still many holes in understanding Lubitz’s motivation, the disclosures about his Internet searches showed that he planned to do what he was going to do, according to this official.
As authorities try to figure out what was on Lubitz’s electronic devices, they got another big break about what was happening inside Airbus 320 that went down –– its flight data recorder.
The jetliner’s cockpit voice recorder was located shortly after the plane crashed. Now, investigators have both “black boxes”, as the devices are called, and the details that they might provide.
A female police officer digging by hand for clothes in a ravine that had been searched previously found the flight data recorder this afternoon about eight inches (20 centimetres) below the surface, Robin told reporters.
Normally white with florescent orange, this discovered recorder lived up to its name as a black box because fire had darkened it with ashes. Even with this damage, the Marseille prosecutor said that investigators should be able to get useful information out of it.
“We will be able to identify the speed, the altitude and the way the pilot acted . . . which will be critical,” said Robin.
The voice data recorder is one of many items uncovered at the crash site in the southern French Alps.
Authorities have found 470 personnel effects there, according to Robin. That number includes 40 cellphones, though all those were badly damaged. Robin cast doubt that any useful information could be retrieved from those phones, given their condition.
This is consistent with French officials’ claims yesterday insisting that two publications, German daily Bild and French Paris Match, were wrong to report that cellphone video showed the harrowing final seconds from on board the flight.
More importantly, investigators have isolated 150 different sets of DNA –– a number that corresponds with the number of people on Flight 9525. Still, the Marseille prosecutor cautioned: “It doesn’t mean we have identified 150 victims. We need to compare [the recovered DNA to] DNA from the families and the deceased.”
Robin estimated “it will take between three to five weeks, if all goes well” for the passengers’ loved ones to get the remains.