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France sending experts to investigate death of Total CEO in Moscow

October 21, 2014, 13:36 UTC+3 PARIS

The Paris Prosecutor General’s Office has opened a criminal case into “involuntary manslaughter” following the tragic death of the Total CEO

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© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

PARIS, October 21. /TASS/. The French Air Accident Bureau (BEA) has sent its experts to Moscow who will join the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) investigating the circumstances of the death of Total CEO Christophe de Margerie, the Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday.

A team of three investigators is due to arrive in Russia soon, the agency said. The Paris Prosecutor General’s Office has opened a criminal case into “involuntary manslaughter” following the tragic death of the Total CEO.

The Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, overseeing management of civil aviation in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), has already retrieved the flight data recorders, which are to be sent to its scientific and technical center.

The IAC experts are currently examining the crash scene and questioning the employees of the airport. The committee has confirmed that “in the near future the French specialists will arrive in Moscow to participate in the investigation.”

During the takeoff at Moscow airport Vnukovo at 7.57pm GMT on Monday, the four-seat Dassault Falcon business jet, en route to Paris, collided with a snowplow, caught fire and fell onto the runway.

France’s oil giant Total CEO de Margerie, two pilots and a flight attendant, all of them French citizens, died in the crash. French investigators said the plane was operated by Unijet, a French business jet charter service.

The driver of the snowplow, who has been confirmed as drunk, is now in a “serious condition” in a Moscow hospital, deputy mayor Leonid Pechatnikov told reporters on Tuesday.

A criminal case has been opened in Russia into the violation of traffic safety and operation of the plane. Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika personally oversees the investigation.

De Margerie, 63, came to Russia to attend a Russian government meeting on foreign investment in Gorki, near Moscow, on Monday. Total has been conducting active business activities in Russia and is involved in a major Yamal LNG project.

The tragic death of the Total CEO has shocked the whole France. French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have expressed their condolences over the crash.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Tuesday said Moscow regrets the loss of its “true friend.” Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin highly appreciated de Mergerie's business skills, his commitment to the development of both the Russian-French relations and multifaceted cooperation.

Total is due to hold an emergency meeting in connection with de Margerie’s death. The company’s shares have dropped over 2% on market open after the news.

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