Closing arguments for retired soldier accused in Afghanistan training accident

SHILO, Man. – Closing arguments are to be made today in the court martial of a former soldier accused in a deadly training accident in Afghanistan.

Retired warrant officer Paul Ravensdale faces six charges, including manslaughter, stemming from the accident on a weapons range near Kandahar city in February 2010.

The prosecution alleges Ravensdale ignored safety rules by allowing other soldiers to stand in exposed areas as C-19 anti-personnel land mines were set off.

One of the mines fired in an unusual manner and sent steel balls backwards instead of forwards.

The projectiles killed Cpl. Joshua Baker and injured four others.

The only thing the court martial has heard from Ravensdale is an investigator’s interview with him, in which Ravensdale says he told soldiers to stand behind light armoured vehicles, or LAVs, for protection.

A brief video, taken moments before the fatal explosion, shows at least two soldiers standing between — not behind — the LAVs.

The video was shot by Master Cpl. Scott Lawrence, a medic who said he was in direct sight of the land mine.

In his interview with the military investigator three days after the accident, Ravensdale said he “honestly felt he did everything right.”

“We were 50 metres back, a little bit more maybe. And (the soldiers watching) were behind the LAV just off to the side.”

Along with manslaughter, Ravensdale is accused of unlawfully causing bodily harm, two counts of breach of duty and two counts of negligence.

Two other soldiers have already been convicted in the accident.

Maj. Christopher Lunney was demoted to captain and given a severe reprimand after pleading guilty to negligent performance of duty.

Maj. Darryl Watts is awaiting sentencing on charges of negligence and unlawfully causing bodily harm.




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