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Army officer found guilty in rafting deaths

A Swiss army officer has been found guilty of negligent homicide for his involvement in a 2008 river rafting exercise that killed five soldiers.

The 30-year-old man, who cannot be identified under Swiss privacy laws, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and a SFr100 ($98) fine. He was discharged from the army in the military tribunal ruling in Thun on Wednesday.

The soldiers lost their lives when two rubber boats capsized on the River Kander in the Bernese Oberland on June 12. The commanding officer and four others survived. One victim's body has never been found.

The officer expressed remorse for the deaths several times during the two-day trial, and told the court the fact that he survived was like a "life sentence".

An earlier military investigation into the accident found that the trip was poorly planned and that the troops involved, all ten from an airfield security unit, were inexperienced rafters.

The report said that no detailed scouting of the river had apparently been carried out beforehand and no provision had been made for any rescue service to be on stand-by.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

(swissinfo.ch)


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