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Probe Blames Pilot Error in Crash Death of Sudan's Garang

An international probe into the helicopter crash that killed Sudan's vice president John Garang last July blames the incident on pilot error.

The joint Sudanese-Ugandan probe concludes that a string of poor decisions made by the pilot in deteriorating weather conditions caused the crash. All 14 passengers on board the plane died. Aviation experts from Kenya, Russia and the United States assisted the investigators.

Garang's death triggered deadly riots in Sudan, where many of the former rebel leader's followers believed his death was part of a conspiracy.

But the panel ruled out both foul play and mechanical failure, saying the pilot was flying too low when the helicopter slammed into a mountainside on its flight from Uganda to southern Sudan.

Last month, the National Insurance Corporation ruled the crash was an accident, and agreed to reimburse Uganda $3 million to compensate for the helicopter. The helicopter had been owned by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Garang's death was widely seen as a blow to the peace agreement that ended Sudan's 21-year north-south civil war.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.