Criminal investigation into Kursk tragedy
On August 24, 2000, the Prosecutor Generalís Office of the Russian Federation approved the decision to start criminal proceedings in connection with the sinking of SSN Kursk. It was decided that the concrete Article of the Criminal Code would be determined after the clarification of the true causes of the accident. The investigation was entrusted to the Chief Military Prosecutorís Office of the Russian Federation. On August 25, 2000, the latter came up with the concrete Article, Art. 263 p. 3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Violation of the Rules for Traffic Safety and Operation of the Railway, Air, or Water Transportation Systems). The thing is that the governmental commission investigating the circumstances of the sinking of SSN Kursk put forward a version about the Russian submarine colliding with an unidentified vessel. As is evident from the criminal practice, criminal proceedings based on Article 263 are normally brought against persons, who by virtue of the work they perform or the post they hold are duty-bound to observe the rules for traffic safety and operation of water transportation systems. This means that the dead Kursk crew alone may be the suspects in this case. Prospectively they are likely to become the accused. Violation of these rules entailing by negligence the death of two or more persons shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of four to ten years (Art. 263 p. 3).
Speaking in an interview, Chief Military Prosecutorís Office press service chief Sergei Ushakov explained that the collision story and the corresponding Article had been adopted solely as grounds for starting the investigation, to wit, formally. As the investigation went ahead, the case could be relegated to other Articles of the Criminal Code.
Following below is an excerpt from the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation:
Article 263. Violation of the Rules for Traffic Safety and Operation of the Railway, Air, or Water Transportation Systems
1. Violation of the rules for traffic safety and operation of railway, air, sea, or river transport by a person, who by virtue of the work he performs or the post he holds is duty-bound to observe these rules, if this deed has involved, by negligence, the infliction of grave injury or injury of average gravity to human health, or the infliction of a large-scale damage shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term of up to five years, or by arrest for a term of three to six months, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to two years, with disqualification to hold specified offices or to engage in specified activities for a term of up to three years, or without such disqualification.
2. The same deed, which has involved by negligence the death of a person shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to five years.
3. A deed, provided for in the first part of this Article and entailing by negligence the death of two or more persons, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of four to ten years.