Emiliano Sala's family demand to know the truth on anniversary of striker's death

By Mirror: Tuesday, January 21st 2020 at 15:05 GMT +3 | Sports
There are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding Sala's death. [Courtesty]

The family of late Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala have issued a statement calling on the authorities to speed up the inquest into his death.

Sala was tragically killed on January 21 last year when the Piper Malibu plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff went missing off Alderney before his body was discovered among the wreckage in the English Channel almost a fortnight later.

Investigations into the full reasons behind Sala's death have proved inconclusive, while pilot David Ibbotson has never been found.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose solicitors, lawyer for the Sala family, said: “The Sala family will mark the anniversary of the untimely death of Emiliano in private, quiet contemplation of their loss.

Sala (L) pictured with his mother Mercedes before his death. [Courtesy]

"The family’s primary concern remains for the full inquest to take place as soon as possible, so that they can finally learn the truth about what happened and ensure that no family has to suffer a similar preventable loss of a loved one.

“Therefore, in the run up to the pre-inquest review hearing on 16 March 2020, it is imperative that the Coroner receives by 14 February 2020 (and then promptly shares with the family) the update required by the Coroner from all investigating bodies – the police, CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch). The CAA, in particular, must speed up its work.”

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Toxicology reports on Sala's body found he had been exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, though a post-mortem ruled his death was caused by injuries to the 'head and trunk'.

The AAIB believes it is likely Ibbotson was subjected to similar exposure to the monoxide, which could have led to drowsiness or unconciousness.

Sala was making the trip back to the UK having completed a £15million transfer from Nantes to Cardiff City days earlier.

The flight was arranged for him by agent Willie McKay, whose son Mark was handling the transfer.

Cardiff were among several clubs said to have been touted the forward in the January transfer window.

The BBC report Sala told friends he felt he was being pushed out of French Ligue 1 club Nantes.

Sala had just completed a move to Cardiff. [Courtesy]

They state that Sala said in a voice recording he "did not feel respected" at Nantes, after having four requests for a new contract ignored.

Speaking from Nimes Olympique ahead of what proved to be his final game for Nantes, Sala said: "They don't respect me, they don't value me.

"I haven't made a decision... I went to get some information from this club that wants me and wants to value me for what I'm worth... I'm going to be 29 this year so I have to think about it."

The 28-year-old also expressed concerns about boarding the rickety aircraft, and allegedly sent a Whatsapp audio message to friends from onboard the plane, which he said: "feels like it's falling to pieces".

Ibbotson was not qualified to fly Sala after he had dropped out of training for commercial flights.

Instead, David Henderson was due to fly the aircraft and was feared dead after he had been listed as the official pilot for the trip.

Police arrested a 64-year-old man on June 19 on suspicion of manslaughter, which was reported to have been Henderson.

The plane was registered under Southern Aircraft Consultancy, who are a trustee firm, but the owner of the aircraft is still a mystery.

A pre-inquest review is due to be held at Bournemouth Town Hall on 16 March.

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