COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and hundreds of dignitaries and relatives of 150 people killed in last month’s crash of a Germanwings jet packed Cologne’s landmark cathedral Friday to pay tribute.
The steps to the altar were covered with 150 lighted candles, one for each person who died — including co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who investigators believe deliberately crashed the plane.
“It’s not for us to judge,” Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, told Bild newspaper about the decision to include a candle for Lubitz.
Most victims of the March 24 crash in France were Germans or Spaniards. Flight 9525 was en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
French and Spanish ministers were among some 1,400 people at the memorial service, which was carried live on German television.
Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent airline, took out full-page advertisements in many of the country’s leading newspapers expressing sympathy.
Flags were ordered flown at half-staff around the country as part of the tribute.
More than 80 percent of the debris of the plane crash in the Alps has now been recovered and removed. The investigation continues.
Though prosecutors believe Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane, they are still trying to determine why.