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Pilot David Henderson named in Sala manslaughter arrest

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

London, United Kingdom   /   Thu, June 20, 2019   /   06:46 pm
Pilot David Henderson named in Sala manslaughter arrest Before the crash: This handout photograph released by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) on Feb. 25 shows on the tarmac in Nantes, France, the Piper Malibu aircraft, N264DB, that crashed in the English Channel carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson en route to Cardiff in South Wales. (AFP/-)

A man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over the death of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala was on Thursday named by the Times newspaper as pilot David Henderson.

Sala, 28, died when a plane carrying him and pilot David Ibbotson came down in the Channel on January 21, just days after he had joined Cardiff City from Nantes.

"As a result of our enquiries we have today, Wednesday 19 June 2019, arrested a 64-year-old man from the North Yorkshire area on suspicion of manslaughter by an unlawful act," Detective Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police said in a statement.

"He is assisting with our enquiries and has been released from custody under investigation."

The Times newspaper named the arrested man as pilot Henderson, who worked regularly for Willie McKay, a football agent linked with Sala's transfer.

The agent has previously said he asked Henderson to fly the plane, but that he was unable to do so. 

Sala had been Cardiff's record signing after a fee of £15 million ($19 million) was agreed with Nantes during the January transfer window.

After travelling to Cardiff to complete the deal, Sala returned to northern France to collect belongings and bid farewell to his teammates.

It was on his return to the Welsh capital to take part in his first training session that the tragedy occurred.

Initial search operations for the player and pilot were suspended in the days after the plane went missing.

However, a crowdfunding effort supported by thousands of donations, including from football stars such as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, helped launch a private search.

That specialised search saw Sala's body recovered from the wreckage in February but Ibbotson's body has not been found.

Two months after Sala's body was discovered, his father Horacio Sala died of a heart attack in Argentina.

- Legal wrangle -

Moving tributes were paid to Sala from across the football world with Nantes retiring the number nine jersey he wore for the Ligue 1 side.

However, the two clubs have been involved in a legal wrangle over the transfer fee.

Nantes reported Cardiff to FIFA after the first instalment of the fee, believed to be £5 million, was not paid on time.

Cardiff previously stated they were "shocked" at reports that Ibbotson did not have a licence to fly at night.

"The club remains deeply concerned that the pilot, and those who arranged the flight, seemingly completely disregarded the rules of flying and put Mr Sala's life in such danger," Cardiff said in a statement in March. 

"We believe those who are responsible should be held fully accountable for their actions."

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Cardiff were relegated from the Premier League after just one season back in the top flight.