BP men innocent: lawyers
Lawyers for two BP PLC employees who were charged with manslaughter on Thursday in the Deepwater Horizon disaster said the US government had unfairly targeted their clients. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the two highest ranking BP supervisors onboard the rig in the hours before the disaster, were innocent of the charges against them, the lawyers said. Earlier on Thursday, the government alleged that “negligent and grossly negligent” conduct by Kaluza and Vidrine led to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, the deaths of 11 workers and the release of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. On April 20, 2010, Kaluza and Vidrine were aware that a drill pipe inserted into the Macondo well to test its pressure showed that the well was not secure, the government said in an indictment. They then failed to alert engineers onshore to the problem and accepted “illogical” explanations from members of the rig crew as to why pressure in the well was building, according to the indictment. Later that evening, the rig exploded, killing 11 men.
Tribunal frees jailed officers
An appeals court in the Hague overturned yesterday the conviction of the most senior Croatian military officer charged with war crimes during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. Ante Gotovina, who was commander in the Split district of the Croatian army, had been jailed for 24 years. The conviction of Mladen Markac, a Croatian police commander who had been serving an 18-year sentence, was also overturned. The two had been convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Judges ordered the pair’s immediate release. Following their conviction by the Yugoslavia tribunal’s trial chamber last year, the two appealed to its appeals court. This upheld their claim that they had not been part of a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of permanently removing Serbian civilians from Croatia’s Krajina region.
Yacht carried cocaine
A yacht that washed up on a deserted island in the South Pacific with a badly decomposed body on board was carrying more than 200kg of cocaine worth up to US$120 million, police said yesterday. Australian Federal Police said international law agencies had been monitoring the 13m yacht JeReVe from when it left South America until they lost contact with it last month. Two divers came across the boat earlier this month off Tonga’s Vava’u island group and made the grim discovery of the dead male when they went aboard. “Also located on board that vessel were 204, 1kg blocks of cocaine destined for the Australian market,” acting national manager for serious and organized crime David Sharpe told a press conference. The massive seizure was now part of an ongoing operation involving police in Tonga, the Cook Islands, Australia and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.