Germany's strict privacy law stopped a doctor from reporting co-pilot whose intentional crash killed 144 passengers

andreas lubitz

A doctor recommended a Germanwings co-pilot be hospitalized two weeks before he crashed a jet in the French Alps and killed 144 passengers and six crew members, according to a draft report from air-safety investigators reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The doctor reportedly failed to alert authorities for fear of breaching Germany’s strict privacy laws.

Now, authorities are expected to recommend that those privacy laws be reassessed to be less strict when public safety is a concern, according to the Journal.

“There is no general rule that obliges doctors of pilots to report medical conditions relevant to their ability to fly to the authorities,” Ulrich Wuermeling, a Germany privacy lawyer, told Time last year. 

Though Germany has exceptionally strict privacy laws, doctors are allowed to report cases where their patient poses an “imminent danger,” to the public, reports The Wall Street Journal.  

But the doctors believed that reporting Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old co-pilot, to authorities would, “present more risks, in particular for themselves, than not reporting the co-pilot,” according to the report.

The crash, for Lubitz, was the culmination of a long battle with psychiatric illness

He had been prescribed antidepressants only eight days before he deliberately crashed, he and had previously considered suicide, according to search history investigators found on his personal computer. 

Lubitz was on sick-leave and returned to flying just two days before the crash, according to the report.

On the day of the crash Lubitz was “still suffering from what was likely to be a psychotic depression and was taking medication,” that his managers knew nothing about, reports The Wall Street Journal.  

SEE ALSO: New details emerge about Germanwings copilot who deliberately crashed a plane

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