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Continental Airlines fine sought on Concorde crash

By Thierry Leveque

PARIS (Reuters) - Prosecutors said on Friday that Continental Airlines should be fined 175,000 euros ($218,800) for manslaughter over its role in the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde plane which killed 113 people.

The Concorde, carrying mostly German tourists, caught fire as it roared out of Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000 and crashed just minutes later into a nearby hotel.

Investigators believe a Continental DC10 triggered the disaster when a small metal strip fell from it onto the runway. This punctured the Concorde's tyres during take off, spraying debris into the underwing fuel tanks and sparking the fire.

Prosecutors added they were seeking a two-year suspended prison sentence for Henri Perrier, an 80-year-old former Concorde director who headed the plane's testing programme.

Perrier, who was involved in the first Concorde flight in 1969, and American airline Continental have denied any wrongdoing. Continental has questioned the safety record of the aging Concorde model as part of its defense.

"I will not accept being held responsible for this accident," Perrier told reporters on Friday.

Air France, which paid millions of dollars in compensation to families of the victims, has escaped blame from investigators looking into the disaster.

Earlier this month, United Airlines parent UAL Corp said it planned to buy Continental Airlines Inc for $3.17 billion in an all-stock deal.

(Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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