VIP-poachers to be sued to compensate for environmental damage
GORNO-ALTAISK, January 12 - RAPSI. The Altai Republic committee for protecting the animal world will sue those who hunted endangered animals during an ill-fated helicopter flight in the Altai for the environmental damage, the committee told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
The damage has been estimated at 900,000 rubles ($28,400).
An Altai district court closed on December 16 the case of endangered animals VIP-hunting as the statute of limitations has expired. Meanwhile the claim for environmental damages remained unconsidered.
A Mi-171 helicopter (Mi-8 modification) carrying high-ranking officials crashed in the vicinity of Chornaya Mountain in January 2009, killing seven passengers. Of the four passengers that survived the crash, three stood trial for illegally poaching endangered Argali Sheep.
However, an Altai district court acquitted the three for lack of evidence on May 23, 2010.
The prosecutor's office challenged the acquittal. The Altai Supreme Court satisfied the cassation appeal and remanded the case for review on August 11.
Photographs of the crash site were published on the Internet, showing Argali Sheep carcasses strewn amidst helicopter debris. The photographs caused a massive public outcry, especially since the animals are on Russian and international endangered species lists.
Argali hunting has been prohibited in Russia since 1930.
Altai public activists are unhappy about the criminal case closure and said they will set up volunteer teams to combat poaching.
Ecologists believe that such court ruling will lead to more killings of endangered animals.