Warden met in Hordaland District Court in service uniform.
Now the 33-year-old has been charged with causing marine damage by negligence. He was charged under the Military Penal Code for dereliction of duty.
On 8 November 2018, he was in command of the KNM “Helge Ingstad” when the warship collided with the oil tanker “Sola DS” outside Stuterminalen in Heldefjorden.
In court, he was innocent.
– Not a scapegoat
All 137 people on board survived the collision, but eight suffered minor injuries. A warship worth 4.3 billion was lost and the most important part of Norway’s defense was sunk in the seas for months.
The prosecution believes that negligent navigation on board the warship was the main cause of the collision.
The 29-year-old man was sitting alone on the dock when the collision happened.
He himself believes that the accusation is unjustified.
– He has been executed as a scapegoat for a failed system, his defense attorney Christian Lundin said before the trial began.
On the other hand, lawyer Benedikte Høgseth, as the most responsible person on board, believes that he acted contrary to good seamanship.
– It is the prosecution’s view that the accused has not been victimized by the armed forces, she says.
– His neglect was not the result of organizational failure, but personal decisions. He was indifferent.
§ 356 of the Criminal Code, cf. § 355
It can easily lead to loss of human lives due to careless marine damage.
Recklessly endangering the public is punishable with a fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
Article 78 first paragraph and third paragraph of the Military Penal Code
Because, as a commanding officer, through carelessness or negligence in the discharge of his official duties, caused substantial damage, […].
“If significant damage is caused by negligence, carelessness or lack of understanding on the part of the commander, the penalty may be up to 2 years in prison. […]».
Explain in five days
The Ministry of Defense received a corporate fine of NOK 10 million in connection with the charges against the Guard Commander, and the Guard Commander is now being prosecuted for violating the same legal section.
The cases against the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the transport operator, the pilot and the captain were dropped as “no crime was proven”.
Prosecutor Benedict Hogseth said both the crew on the tanker and the Maritime Transport Center in Fetzi were involved in the case, but indicated that the case against them had been dropped.
– The prosecution’s contention, Hogseth opined, was that it had no significance in assessing the defendant’s legal capacity.
He further pointed out that the accident may soon claim human lives.
– The risk of loss of human life is too extensive, said Hogseth, who said Warden had been offered a confession or a simplified hearing before the trial, but refused.
He has always denied criminal wrongdoing.
Eight weeks have therefore been set aside for the trial at the Hordaland District Court. It has been more than four years since the conflict to the case.
The reason is that the case is large and complex, involving many actors and the investigation has spent time clarifying all sides of the case.
The trial begins with preliminary proceedings by the prosecution and defense before the two-day court proceeds to examine a warship’s bridge.
On Wednesday, January 18, the accused will begin his statement. Five whole days are reserved for it.
– He is afraid of the trial, but is looking forward to telling his version, defender Lundin says.
More than 30 testimonials
Several prominent persons have also been summoned to testify in the case. More than 30 witnesses have been called.
The entire crew on the bridge at the time of the accident is on the witness list. Many of them were 19-20 years old on the night of the accident. Two of them were undergoing training, including an American officer trained in navigation as a watch commander.
The outgoing warden will also appear in court and testify. He had 00-04 watch on the bridge and handed over the voyage to the accused watch commander an hour before the accident.
In addition, the captain and pilot of the “Sola TS” and the transport operator at the Fedje Sea Transport Center will be in court to testify.
“Music geek. Coffee lover. Devoted food scholar. Web buff. Passionate internet guru.”