Lone Survivor of 2009 Airplane Crash Testifies in Court in Paris

Paris (AP) — The only survivors of the 2009 plane crash in the Indian Ocean stood up in court in Paris on Monday. I was still alive.

Bahia Bakari’s mother was one of 152 people who died on a flight operated by Yemenia Airlines, now known as Yemenia.

Composed through her testimony, Bakari cried in mourning for her mother’s loss. Others in court also burst into tears.

Wearing pure white clothes and praised by judges and lawyers for courage, Bakari gave a powerful testimony in a moving room.

“I landed and started to feel eddy, but people didn’t seem to be worried about it. Then I felt an electric shock and woke up in the water. What happened while I was sitting on the plane and in the water? I don’t remember what happened. I have a black hole, “Bakali said.

Yemen’s state airline was charged with manslaughter and unintentional injury at 11:53 pm, killing 141 passengers and 11 crew members. The 65 dead were French citizens.

Bakari, now 25, was 12 when she and her mother flew to Comoros off the east coast of Africa to attend a wedding. The plane departed Paris, stopped in the city of Marseille in southern France, and landed in Sana’a. Bakari explained switching to a smaller plane to get from the Yemeni capital to Moroni in Comoros. On a night flight, Bakari remembered that she was “all exhausted.”

After the plane jumped into the sea, she grabbed the floating part of the destroyed plane and stayed in the water for 11 hours before being saved by the fishermen.

Bakari first remembered hearing “the voice of a woman screaming for help in Comorian”. Then she fell asleep and she woke up alone. I almost gave up. I almost lost hope. Thinking about her mother, I could put up with it. I was convinced that everyone except me made the house safe. “

Over time, she said, “When I was in the water, I forgot the time.”

After her rescue, Bakari was taken to Moroni Hospital and returned to France. Bakari suffered injuries such as a broken clavicle, a broken hip and a burn.

Today, “I’m not physically affected, but my mother died. I was very close to her,” she said in tears.

The young woman currently working in real estate had two young brothers, mainly relying on her father to help deal with the trauma. She did not seek treatment after discharge.

“I was reluctant to talk to strangers. I was intimate with my family,” she said.

Bakari said, “I’m much better now,” and resumed flight two years after the crash. She said she didn’t suffer from traumatic flashbacks, but she’s not relieved underwater.

Bakari said he couldn’t attend his mother’s funeral because he was still in the hospital, but said he thought he was lucky because his mother’s body was identified and there was a proper grave.

Bakari, who calls himself a “proud Comoros,” stood in a packed courtroom with more than 250 plaintiffs, primarily from Comoros. The trial was broadcast live in a court in Marseille, where many victims were killed.

She co-authored the book “Miracle Girl Bahia” and told the court that she did it for the victim’s relatives to “leave them to hold something.”

Despite the pain of rejuvenating her memories, she said she was relieved to be tried, even after many years.

In 2015, two French courts ordered the airline to pay more than € 30 million ($ 31.6 million) to the victim’s family in a civil lawsuit. The victim’s family lamented the slow procedure between France and Comoros. 1975.

In 2018, a secret agreement was signed between the airline and 835 beneficiaries. The beneficiaries had to wait a few more years to get compensation.

A representative of the company did not attend the trial in Paris. Bakari lamented his absence and said he wanted the company to apologize.

The trial ends on June 2. Airlines can be fined up to € 225,000 ($ 237,000).