Death of Christophe de Margerie: Four airport employees detained for questioning in connection with deadly crash


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The Independent Online

Russian authorities have arrested four more airport employees in connection with the tragic death of Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie.

The 63-year old was killed after a snowplough crashed into his private jet as the aircraft prepared for take-off at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on Monday night along with three crew members.

Today, Russia's Investigative Committee confirmed four more airport employees have been detained, including an intern air traffic controller and her supervisor, as well as the heads of the airport's air traffic controllers and runway cleaners.

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"The investigation suggests that these people did not respect the norms of flight security and ground operations, which led to the tragedy," the committee said in a statement.


The snowplough driver, Vladimir Martynenko, was arrested soon after the accident took place. Russian authorities today insisted he was drunk, arguing he tested positive for alcohol and he had double the drink-driving limit in his blood.

Mr Martynenko's lawyer has denied he was drunk, arguing that he suffers from a heart conditions that prevents him from drinking alcohol. Yesterday, Mr Martynenko argued he "lost his bearings" and did not realise he had entered the runway.

The head and deputy-head of Vnukovo airport, Andrey Diakov and Sergey Solntsev, have resigned in the aftermath of the crash.

Yesterday, Total's board confirmed Patrick Pouyanne, who previously led the company's refining and chemicals division, would replace Mr de Margerie as chief executive. Former CEO Thierry Desmarest will serve as chairman.