Heads Roll in Russia as More Details Emerge of Total CEO Crash

Heads Roll in Russia as More Details Emerge of Total CEO Crash

Top Russian airport officials quit as more employees are detained over the Moscow plane crash that killed the CEO of French oil giant Total.

MOSCOW -- Top Russian airport officials quit on Thursday as more employees were detained over the Moscow plane crash that killed the CEO of French oil giant Total (IW 1000/9).

The driver of the snowplow that collided with Total boss Christophe de Margerie's plane as it was taking off from Moscow's Vnukovo airport late Monday was also ordered to be held for two months behind bars for further questioning.

The new staff detained in the probe include a trainee air traffic controller who directed the doomed plane, her immediate supervisor and their boss and the head of the department responsible for clearing the runways.

"The investigation suggests that these people did not respect the norms of flight security and ground operations, which led to the tragedy," said the powerful Investigative Committee in charge of the probe.

Vnukovo airport also said its general director and his deputy had resigned "due to the tragic event" after the management was accused of "criminal negligence" by investigators.

However they have not been detained.

Funeral on Tuesday

De Margerie, 63, was killed along with three crew members when the private jet hit the snowplow as it was taking off shortly before midnight and burst into flames.

He will be buried on Tuesday in a private funeral in Normandy in northern France, a day later than first announced by local officials.

"The burial has been postponed until Tuesday," a local source said, citing information from a funeral home in Granville. No reason was given for the delay.

A Moscow court ruled that the 60-year-old snowplow driver, who was detained immediately after the crash, be kept in custody for two months after investigators said he was drunk at the wheel.

The court said Vladimir Martynenko had a blood alcohol content of 0.6 grams of ethanol per liter of blood, compared to the legal limit of zero for driving in Russia.

Interfax news agency reported that he had admitted drinking coffee with a liqueur.

Martynenko, still wearing his work uniform, did not speak at Thursday's hearing.

But his lawyer Alexander Karabanov said afterwards that Martynenko "does not admit guilt, he admits his involvement."

By Anna Malpas

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish