Surveillance footage in Sharm airport handed over to Egypt authorities

Saturday 21-11-2015 02:38 PM
Surveillance footage in Sharm airport handed over to Egypt authorities

The remains of a Russian airliner which crashed is seen in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer


By Hend Kortam  

CAIRO, Nov. 21 (Aswat Masriya) - The Egypt-led international committee investigating the Russian plane crash is concerned with the technical not the criminal side of the investigation, Egypt's aviation minister said Friday.

Minister Hossam Kamal said in statements to the press that the prosecution and judicial authorities are participating in the investigation and have inspected the site and taken all the footage from the video surveillance devices at Sharm El-Sheikh airport, where the Russian plane took off.

"Any criminal evidence" will be handed to the state's top prosecutor, who is responsible for the criminal investigation, he said.

The charter flight operated by Russian airline Metrojet broke up midair 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport as it headed to St. Petersburg on Oct. 31, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board, and leaving heaps of debris spread over no less that 13 square kilometers.

Egypt's most active militant group in North Sinai, Sinai Province, an affiliate of ISIS, claimed responsibility for downing the plane twice.

The claim was initially dismissed but the second claim was taken more seriously, especially after the U.S. and UK publicly entertained  the possibility that the plane may have been brought down by a bomb.

Kamal added that "Egypt is dealing with the Russian plane crash with transparency" will announce the cause of the crash to the world when the investigation is complete. The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee said yesterday that preliminary findings by the international investigation committee led by Egypt will be announced by December, 30 days after the incident.  

The Egyptian minster's statements come days after the Kremlin announced the completion of its own investigation, claiming that it was an act of terrorism that brought the plane down.

The Russian Federal Security Service said that the examination of passengers' belongings, luggage and fragments from the debris revealed that there were traces of "foreign-made explosives."

At the time, Egypt said "so far, there is no criminal evidence" to support that claim. 

A day later, ISIS published pictures in its Dabiq magazine of the alleged improvised explosive device used to down the Russian plane, a can of Schweppes Gold and what appeared to be a makeshift trigger, which explosives experts have told Aswat Masriya could have brought down the plane depending on where it was placed.

Egypt fears that the ramifications of this incident will be bad news for its struggling tourism sector, a vital source of much-needed hard currency.

The U.K. has halted all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, one of Egypt's biggest tourist hubs, while Russia has halted all flights to Egypt indefinitely and banned the national carrier EgyptAir from flying to Moscow.

But the crash does not seem to be taking a toll on Cairo-Moscow ties. On Thursday, Egypt and Russia signed Egypt's first ever nuclear power plant deal, finalizing  negotiations that began earlier this year.

After the signing, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt fully understands Russia’s position.

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