12:36 GMT12 May 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Moscow city court has commuted the sentence of Vnukovo airport flight director Roman Dunaev, who was to serve six years in an open prison over the 2014 plane crash that killed Total CEO Christophe de Margerie, due to expiration of statute of limitations.

    "The Moscow city court has changed the verdict of the Solntsevo district court of Moscow against Dunaev and commuted his prescribed sentence due to the expiration of the statute of limitations", the press service said.

    In July, the Solntsevo district court sentenced Dunaev to six years in an open prison and traffic controllers Alexander Kruglov and Nadezhda Arkhipova to five years and six months in an open prison and five years in an open prison, respectively. Arkhipova has been subsequently granted an amnesty.

    All of the convicts appealed the ruling in the Moscow city court. In late September, the court recognized the sentences of Kruglov and Arkhipova lawful, but hearings for Dunaev were adjourned, as he was in self-isolation after his relatives tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Prosecutors were accusing Arkhipova of negligence over not monitoring the movement of special equipment on the airfield and Kruglov of allowing an intern dispatcher to give the plane a go-ahead to take off while the snowplow was still on the runway.

    Dunaev, in turn, was accused of "inaction" in monitoring the dispatchers' work. All employees had access to radars and other equipment they could use to see if the runway was set for a takeoff, according to the prosecutors.

    The intern dispatcher was also charged initially, but the prosecution later dropped the charges.

    In July 2017, the Solntsevo court sentenced snowplow driver Vladimir Martynenko and senior shift engineer Vladimir Ledenev to 4 and 3.5 years in prison, respectively. They got their sentences commuted as part of the amnesty on the 70th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

    A business jet carrying de Margerie crashed in Moscow's Vnukovo airport in the late hours of October 20, 2014, after hitting a snowplow during takeoff. None of the four people on board, including de Margerie and three crew members, survived.

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