MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Reinvestigation request filed by the defense of the air pilot whose SSJ-100 liner crashed and caught fire at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport last May has been turned down, lawyer Natalya Mitusova, representing the interests of the pilot, Denis Yevdokimov, has told TASS.
“We filed 28 various requests. We asked Bastrykin to order reinvestigation of the case only to hear refusal,” she said.
Mitusova added that the investigation had been fast-tracked to be completed within deadlines quite uncommon in such cases.
“The investigators pursued only one line of inquiry. Technical problems of the specific plane or mistakes in its design were not examined,” she said adding that the investigators were trying to turn her client into a “scapegoat.”
After the plaintiffs have seen the case files the air pilot and his defense lawyer will examine the evidence and charges, too.
If the prosecutor’s office endorses the bill of indictment, the case will be handed over to the Khimki City Court for trial.
The families of those who died in the SSJ-100 crash at Sheremetyevo believe the outcome of the investigation into the plane’s captain, Denis Yevdokimov, who is accused of violating safety rules is unfair, lawyer Pavel Gerasimov, who represents the interests of several families whose relatives died in the disaster, has told TASS.
“We’ve anticipated all along that the blame will be placed on the captain or the whole crew, which is unfair. The forensic examinations we requested have not been made. Our requests were ignored,” the lawyer revealed.
Earlier, Gerasimov stated that the damage in the criminal case totaled 1.5 billion ($23.4 million), but the plaintiffs will not sue the crew’s commander for compensation. The lawyer said the air carrier and the insurance company have paid all due compensations to the victims. Gerasimov claimed that the compensations were “the biggest ever in Russia’s history” but avoided elaborating. A source familiar with the case has told TASS the insurance compensations were 19 million rubles per victim or larger.
Aeroflot’s SSJ-100 left Sheremetyevo in the evening of May 5 to return to the airport of departure for an emergency landing 30 minutes later following a lightning strike. The landing was unsuccessful. The plane caught fire. There were 73 passengers and five crew on board. The disaster claimed 41 lives. Ten were injured.
A criminal case was opened under Part 3 of Article 263 of Russia’s Criminal Code (violation of air traffic and aircraft operation safety rules that caused two or more negligent deaths). The maximum punishment is a prison term of up to seven years. The investigators argue that the plane’s captain, Denis Yevdokimov, misused the control stick during the landing. He is under his own recognizance and court supervision. The pilot pleads not guilty.
Earlier, the chief of the Main Forensics Directorate at Russia’s Investigative Committee, Zigmund Lozhis, said that most fatalities on board the SSJ-100 were due not to the impact, but to choking with hazardous fumes from burning plastics. The passengers had no time to use the oxygen masks or undo their seatbelts. Most of the victims were found dead in their seats.