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Three Russian air traffic control officers found guilty of criminal negligence in death of French oil-giant Total's CEO

Three Russian air traffic control officers found guilty of criminal negligence in death of French oil-giant Total's CEO
A Moscow court has ruled that a violation of safety rules by two air traffic controllers and their superior at the city's Vnukovo airport resulted in the deadly 2014 crash that killed businessman Christophe de Margerie.

The 63-year-old Frenchman had worked for Total for forty years, rising to the top of the company. Just hours before his death, he had conducted a meeting with then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 

The verdict comes more than six years after the tragedy in which a Dassault Falcon 50EX business jet, with de Margerie and a three-member crew on board, collided with a snowplow during takeoff. Now, the court has said that the air traffic control's actions were largely the cause of the crash.

On trial are officers Aleksandr Kruglov and Nadezhda Arkhipova, as well as flight operations director Roman Dunaev. Prosecutors said that Arkhipova failed to properly control the movement of the snowplow by allowing it to enter the runaway, while Kruglov let an intern clear the Falcon for takeoff – with the snowplow still on the runway. Dunaev, meanwhile, failed to properly oversee the work of the air traffic controllers and take appropriate action, despite the team’s radar system showing that the runway was occupied by the snowplow.

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All of the accused deny any guilt in the incident. The prosecutors have called for Dunaev and Kruglov to be sentenced to six years in prison and Arkhipova five years and 10 months. None of the three have yet been sentenced.

Back in 2017, a Moscow court sentenced the snowplow driver, Vladimir Martynenko, to four years in prison after he was found guilty of a gross violation of air traffic safety rules that caused the deadly crash. However, he was later pardoned.

The crash occurred on October 21, 2014. De Margerie was the only passenger on the jet, while three crew members, who were also French citizens, perished as well.

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