Prosecutors: Chapecoense not negligent in air crash

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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) No evidence has been found linking Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense to negligence in the hiring of the plane that crashed in Colombia last year and killed 71 people, including most of its team, local prosecutors said.

In a statement late Wednesday, prosecutors said Chapecoense officials did not negotiate with Bolivian company LaMia. They also said they found no evidence that Chapecoense made undue payments to the company that had a close relationship with the South American soccer confederation.

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The Chapecoense flight crashed on Nov. 29 near Medellin en route to the club’s first ever international final. The plane ran out of gas only miles from its destination after leaving from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

“There has been no identification of any negligent or imprudent conduct by directors of Chapecoense,” the prosecutors said. “There has been no discovery of elements that suggest there was an undue payment or any shady interest in the hiring of the airline.”

Prosecutors also said no Brazilian will be charged for the accident on the Colombian hillside, which occurred shortly before the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s second most prestigious club competition. The tragedy made Colombian team Atletico Nacional declare Chapecoense as champion, a decision that soon afterward was followed by the region’s soccer confederation.

Investigations began in December.

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Chapecoense is now fighting against relegation in Brazil’s top division. The club announced last week it expects to hold modest ceremonies to honor the dead and the six survivors of the accident.

However, the prosecutors said there could have been irregularities in a flight carrying Lionel Messi and other Argentina players in Brazil only weeks before the Chapecoense crash. Investigators said there is evidence Brazil’s civil aviation authority granted another LaMia jet permission for take-off regardless of its flight plan having little room for gas to be spared.