Snow machine operator with which Falcon collided not drinker, has heart problem - lawyer

Vladimir Martynenkov, the operator of the snow-clearing machine with which Total CEO Christophe de Margerie's plane collided at Moscow's Vnukovo airport late on Monday, does not drink alcohol, his lawyer Alexander Karabanov told Interfax on Tuesday.

Vladimir Martynenkov, the operator of the snow-clearing machine with which Total CEO Christophe de Margerie's plane collided at Moscow's Vnukovo airport late on Monday, does not drink alcohol, his lawyer Alexander Karabanov told Interfax on Tuesday.

"My client suffers from a chronic heart condition. He does not drink alcohol. His relatives and doctors can confirm this," he said.

"He was sober at the time of the accident," the lawyer said.

A large defense team will represent Martynenkov's interests, he said.

"We do not want an ordinary person to be made responsible for this accident," Karabanov said.

Meanwhile, Interfax has learned that the operator admitted having had coffee with liqueur before sitting down behind the wheel. Tests showed insignificant levels of alcohol in his blood.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier that the operator of a snow-clearing machine with which de Margerie's Falcon airplane collided at the Vnukovo airport had reportedly been drunk.

Four people were killed in the accident.

"Three crew members and a passenger - chairman of French company Total Christophe de Margerie - died as a result of the air crash," Markin said.

Investigators believe that a Falcon-300 four-seater airplane on a Moscow-Paris flight collided with a snow-clearing machine during takeoff from Moscow's Vnukovo-3 airport at around midnight on Monday, Markin said. The plane then caught fire and crashed onto the runway.

Read more: Police working with operator of snow-removal machine behind de Margerie plane crash - source

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