Suspecting that the Metrojet passenger plane crash near Sharm el-Sheikh last October was a criminal act, the general prosecutor has referred investigations to the State Security Prosecution, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office released Thursday.
The decision came after the Civil Aviation Ministry committee tasked with investigating the crash sent the prosecutor general a technical report from the Russian investigations team that indicated criminal intent.
In November, Russian Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov announced that a terrorist attack caused the fatal crash, which killed all 224 people on board.
Traces of explosives were discovered among personal belongings, baggage and parts of the aircraft, according to a transcript of a meeting between Bortnikov and Russian President Vladimir Putin published on the Kremlin’s website.
Analysts believed a makeshift bomb containing 1 kg of TNT exploded onboard the plane, which caused debris to be scattered over a wide area, the Russian report said.
Until Thursday, Egyptian officials have dodged these claims, maintaining that investigations were still ongoing and any evidence of foul play or terrorism had yet to be confirmed.
The crash was the worst civil aviation disaster in Russia’s history. Speculation of a terrorist attack swelled after the Islamic State-affiliated Province of Sinai militant group claimed responsibility, prompting Russia to suspend all flights to Egypt on November 6.
On November 14, Russian aviation authorities also banned all incoming EgyptAir fights.
Putin said Thursday that the problem of ensuring the security of Russian tourists in Egypt has yet to be resolved, the Russian news agency TASS reported.
“No such scheme in the work with Egyptian colleagues has been found so far, but our special services and law enforcement bodies are working with Egyptian friends on this issue,” Putin said during an annual televised question-and-answer session.
For flights to Egypt to resume, Putin continued, there needs to be a way of checking passengers, luggage and food onboard jointly with the Egyptian authorities to ensure security.