Russian airline CEO guilty in Lokomotiv plane crash case

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Yaroslavl, russia, september 8, 2011, lokomotiv yaroslavl fans commemorate players of a khl ice hockey team lokomotiv who died in a yak-42 passenger plane crash on september 7 by laying flowers and lighting candles at the arena-2000 stadium. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

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Yaroslavl, russia, september 8, 2011, lokomotiv yaroslavl fans commemorate players of a khl ice hockey team lokomotiv who died in a yak-42 passenger plane crash on september 7 by laying flowers and lighting candles at the arena-2000 stadium. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

The fourth anniversary of one of hockey’s biggest tragedies passed earlier this month: The plane crash that took the lives of 45 people, including all the players from the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. That list included several athletes and coaches who appeared in the NHL. 

On Sept. 23, there’s finally been a criminal conviction in the case against Yak-Service Airlines, which the victims’ families accused of negligence.

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Vadim Timofeyev, the former deputy of CEO Yak-Service Airlines, was found guilty of violating Part 3 of Article 263 of the Russian Criminal Code, governing the safe operation of aircraft resulting in the manslaughter of more than two people. He was sentenced to five years in prison, according to TASS:

Interstate Aviation Committee experts have found the crash followed after one of the crew’s members unintentionally stepped on the brake pedal during takeoff, thereby preventing the plane from developing takeoff speed. After rolling more than 2.5 kilometers along the runway the plane took off to ram into a beacon tower mast and catch fire.

The accused blamed the crash on poorly placed cargo on board. In violation of the rules the team’s luggage had not been weighed before the departure. Timofeyev pled not guilty.

The trial began in Dec. 2014, held in a district court in Yaroslavl.

While Timonfeyev was found guilty, his sentence was immediately amnestied, according to Interfax:

Timofeyev was exempted from punishment under the amnesty timed with the [70th anniversary of victory in World War II]. 

The state prosecutors had sought six years in a penal colony settlement for the defendant. The hockey players' relatives, who were victims in the case, had insisted on a suspended sentence.

During his final statement in late August, Timofeyev said he would have preferred to die with the crew than become a defendant. He said he disagrees with the charge and again extended his condolences to the victims' relatives.

If you’d like to know more about this Russian prison amnesty thing, read about it here.

Hopefully, this gives the families some sense of closure here, even as the pain of loss lingers on. 

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