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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 17:11 GMT
Twelve charged over Ukraine air disaster
Su-27 crash
The Su-27 crashed into the spectators' stand
Ukraine's chief prosecutor has said 12 people have been charged with negligence in connection with last year's air show disaster which killed 77 people.

A boy is attended to by his grandmother at the reanimation department at the children's hospital in  Lviv
Lviv hospitals were inundated with the injured
Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun made the announcement after his office concluded its investigation into the crash of a Su-27 military jet during an air show near the western city of Lviv in July.

Mr Piskun said the evidence was still being studied but the case would be turned over to the court.

Seventy four people - including 27 children - died when the plane crashed into spectators, after a manoeuvre went wrong. Three others died later in hospital.

Click here to see how the tragedy unfolded

More than 150 people were injured in the accident.

Last year, the official report said the crash was caused by pilot error as the crew had failed to follow the flight plan and performed difficult manoeuvres which they had not done before.

Somersaulting fireball

It was a spectacular, but horrific, accident in what is believed to be the world's worst air show disaster.

The SU-27 jet was flying on its side as the crowd of about 10,000 people watched the show.

The plane then grazed the ground and ploughed into spectators, instantly becoming a somersaulting fireball.

Both pilots survived the disaster after ejecting from the aircraft.

It was suspected that the manoeuvre had not been properly rehearsed.

The commission also said there were serious errors made on the ground as spectators were allowed far too close to the air display.

Among the 12 men to be charged with negligence are former Air Force commander Viktor Strelnikov and other top air force officials.

BBC Ukraine analyst Stephen Dalziel says that, if found guilty, they will probably be dismissed from the air force and could face prison sentences.

Last year, President Leonid Kuchma sacked the country's top air force commanders after the incident, but refused to accept the resignation of the defence minister.

Following the accident, military planes were banned from flying at air shows and, with the exception of planes on active air defence guard, all military aircraft were grounded.

Our analyst says that the Lviv air disaster also had immediate repercussions in other countries of the former Soviet Union.

An air display which was due to take place in the Russian capital, Moscow, three weeks later was cancelled despite reassurances by the organisers that they had taken all necessary safety precautions.




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Ukraine crash
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29 Jul 02 | Europe
21 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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