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11 weeks after Germanwings crash, victims’ remains head home

SHARE 11 weeks after Germanwings crash, victims’ remains head home

PARIS — The first victims' remains from the Germanwings crash will be flown from France to Germany on Tuesday, about 11 weeks after the disaster that killed all 150 people onboard.

Dozens of victims' relatives from the March 24 crash in the French Alps have been awaiting the return of the remains. In the first repatriation, 44 coffins were expected to be flown from Marseille to Duesseldorf, Germany.

Germanwings' parent company Lufthansa has chartered a plane to bring the coffins to Germany, and has said that other remains will be repatriated by month's end.

Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer for families of 34 victims, said many relatives "don't want to realize that their children are dead. It will be brutal when they see the coffins tomorrow, but it is necessary, because they need closure."

Investigators believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of depression, intentionally crashed the A320 flying from Barcelona, Spain to Duesseldorf.

The office of Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, who is leading a French investigation into the crash, said that he will hold a news conference on Thursday after meeting in Paris with victims' relatives. The victims had 19 different nationalities. Nearly half were German, and 47 were Spanish.

Robin's office said he was expecting 300 to 400 people to attend the closed-door meeting at a Foreign Ministry conference center in southwest Paris, including relatives and officials representing families who weren't traveling to Paris.

The family of two Australian victims, Carol Friday and her son Greig, won't be attending, said her brother, Malcolm Coram. Coram visited the crash site about a month ago, and told The Associated Press it was simply too far to return again so soon.

Coram said he wasn't sure when Carol and Greig's remains will be returned to Australia, but he expects it would be sometime before August. He said the family has been happy with the way that Germanwings and authorities have been communicating with them.

"We get treated very well," he said. "What's done is done for us — we just sort of want it to end."

Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, contributed to this report.