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Moscow investigating crash involving Total boss

Safety measures questioned in crash that left de Margerie dead.

By
Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A Moscow court announced the Thursday arrest of the driver of the snowplow involved in the runway incident that left Total CEO Christophe de Margerie dead.

The court confirmed driver Vladimir Martynenko is under investigation for his role in Monday's accident. Authorities say he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident, but denied that charge during interrogation earlier this week.

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De Margerie and three French crewmembers of a private business jet died when the plane struck the snowplow during takeoff Monday from a Moscow airport.

A spokesman for the Russian team investigating the situation said four other airport employees have been questioned in the incident.

"All of them are suspected of failing to ensure compliance with safety rules for flights and airport ground operations, which resulted in a tragedy," spokesman Vladimir Markin said. "The detainees have already been questioned as suspects."

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the French government over the incident, describing de Margerie as a pioneer who helped steer major developments in the Russian energy sector.

Total said Wednesday it named former refining director Patrick Pouyanne as chief executive officer and former CEO Thierry Desmarest as the chairman of the board of directors, splitting de Margerie's role between two executives.

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