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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ufa Picks Germans to Seek Crash Settlement

A top German aviation lawyer who won a $144 million settlement in the Concorde disaster in 2000 said his team has been selected to represent the Russian families of those who died in a midair collision over southern Germany last month.

Elmar Giemulla, who also advised on the privatization of Aeroflot, said Wednesday that he would seek a settlement of at least $4.9 million -- $100,000 for each of the 49 people in the group that chartered the flight to Spain.

"We will represent all of the families involved," Giemulla said in a telephone interview.

All 69 people on the Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154 jet died in the July 1 crash, as did the two pilots of a DHL cargo plane.

The Tu-154 was taking 44 children of top Bashkir officials and their five adult chaperones for a vacation at a Spanish resort.

Giemulla said his team was picked through a committee established by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov "to close the contract with the families and to conclude a contract with the lawyers, with us."

"Since most of the Bashkiris are working in the state administration, they have no choice but to sign up," he said.

He said he would spend Thursday and Friday in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, meeting with the families.

No one in the Bashkir administration was available for comment Thursday.

Giemulla said he would seek a six-figure sum of at least $100,000 in compensation for each victim in a process that could take a year.

Individual settlements would probably not grow into the millions of dollars, as seen in U.S. settlements, but should be larger than any previous payouts to Russian air crash victims, he said.

"We are not speaking about [legal] action right now, but we are focusing on Skyguide, we are focusing on DHL, we are focusing on the manufacturer of the TCAS [crash avoidance system] instrument, which is Honeywell," Giemulla said.

Skyguide, the Swiss air traffic control agency that was responsible for the two aircraft, did not reply to requests for comment.

DHL and Honeywell declined to comment.

German investigators are not expected to release a report on the crash until next year.

Giemulla said an out-of-court settlement would be sought.

He said he has worked closely with Russia for the past decade and that experience led to his involvement with the crash case.

"I and some colleagues advised the Russian government on the drafting of their aviation act and the restructuring of their aviation administration, the privatization of Aeroflot," Giemulla said, referring to the Aviation Code.

"Through this work I have a lot of friends and colleagues here in Moscow from the aviation administration, and this is why I was approached by them immediately after the crash to involve myself," he said.

Giemulla works with a high-powered team of lawyers that includes former German Interior Minister Gerhart Baum.