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Venediktova on investigation into An-26 plane crash near Chuhuiv: Case is about to be submitted to court

KYIV. Sept 25 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The investigation into the crash of the An-26 aircraft near Chuhuiv is at the final stage and is ready to be submitted to court, but the defense of the ex-Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is delaying this process, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said.

"On May 5, we provided the parties with access to the collected materials. So far, all the victims and their representatives, four suspects and their defenders, have completed familiarizing themselves with them, one suspect and his defender are at the final stage of acquaintance. At the same time, the suspect, who has already been dismissed from the post of Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has never come to the State Bureau of Investigations and has not read the materials of the pretrial investigation," Venediktova wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

According to the prosecutor general, lawyers for the ex-commander of the Air Force are delaying the consideration of the investigator’s petition to set a time limit for familiarization with the materials, making numerous motions and challenges to the investigating judge. Therefore, this petition has not been considered for more than half a month.

"On September 20, the investigating judge dismissed the complaint of the defender of the ex-Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to report the suspicion. Therefore, only because of the suspect’s improper procedural behavior, the indictment has not been sent to court yet," she said.

The Prosecutor General recalled that six military officials were suspected of violating the rules of flights, preparation for them and the rules for operating aircraft, which entailed a catastrophe and serious consequences, and in a negligent attitude towards the service. This is the head of the flights that took place on September 25, 2020 in the military unit A4014, the deputy commander of this unit for flight training, the deputy unit commander, the unit commander, the head of the Kharkiv Air Force University named after Ivan Kozhedub and the commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

As Venediktova said, the investigation established that these military officials made improper preparation and approval of documents on the operating conditions of the aircraft. Takeoff from the "assembly line" was not provided for in the flight manual. There were people on board that shouldn’t have been there at all. The procedure for the implementation of flight training of cadets was violated, and control over the level of training of pilot-instructors and the educational process and compliance with safety measures was carried out inappropriately. During the catastrophe, the flight management did not take sufficient adequate measures to avoid the plane crash.

"The Prosecutor General’s Office is doing everything possible to ensure that everyone involved in the systemic violations that led to the air tragedy near Kharkiv is accountable before the law. Establishing justice and proper conclusions of all those responsible for flight safety in order to prevent such disasters is all we have to do in memory of those who flew on the AN-26 into eternity on September 25, 2020," concluded Venediktova.

As reported, the An-26 plane crashed on the Kyiv-Kharkiv-Dovzhansky highway, not far from Chuhuiv at about 20:50 on September 25. The plane crash happened when the aircraft was landing at the airfield of a military unit in the town of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region.There were 27 people (20 cadets and seven officers of Kharkiv University of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine named after Kozhedub) onboard. Some 25 people died instantly, two were hospitalized. On September 26, one of the hospitalized cadets died.