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Tatarstan court holds preliminary hearing in Bulgaria sinking case

February 25, 2013, 18:28 UTC+3

The tragedy that happened on July 10, 2011 claimed the lives of 122 people who were on the ship

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KAZAN, February 25 (Itar-Tass) – The Kamsko-Ustyinsky District Court of Tatarstan has started the consideration of the criminal case over sinking of the Bulgaria ship in July 2011. On Monday, it held preliminary hearings at which a number of motions, including on the extension of the term of arrest for the defendants, were entered.

Deputy Prosecutor of the district Ilnur Minnullin told Itar-Tass that the court decided to extend the term of custody for the defendants until June 10. Also, having considered the request of the aggrieved parties, who said it is inconvenient for them to travel from Kazan to the Kamsko-Ustyinsky district, “the court decided to file a petition with the Supreme Court of Tatarstan to change the case territorial jurisdiction.”

“The court meeting was held behind closed doors in the presence of 30 aggrieved persons and five defendants, without witnesses and experts,” the supervisory agency specified.

The criminal case, in which there are more than 200 aggrieved persons, includes over 90 volumes. More than one thousand witnesses of the tragedy have been questioned and 250 expert examinations conducted.

The defendants are Director of ArgoRechTur Svetlana Inyakina, senior expert of the Perm unit of the Kama branch of the Federal State Institution (FSI) Russian River Register Yakov Ivashov, the former first mate of Bulgaria, Ramil Khametov, head of the Kazan line department of the Volga department of the state river and sea inspectorate Irek Timergazeyev and chief inspector of the same department Vladislav Semenov. Depending on the role of each, they are charged with providing services that do not meet the requirements of safety and health of consumers, violation of safety rules of operation of inland waterway transport, as well as labour protection rules and abuse of office.

On July 10, 2011, the Bulgaria ship was travelling in Tatarstan on the Volga River when she was caught in a storm and sank in several minutes at about 13:58 Moscow time (09:58 UTC), several hours after beginning her cruise. Survivors say that during the cruise, Bulgaria encountered stormy weather, and listed sharply to starboard. This was apparently compounded by the captain trying to turn the boat around, and soon water rushed into the vessel through portholes that had been opened because the ship had no air conditioning. According to a survivor, the sinking came without warning, and the vessel “listed to starboard ... and capsized and sank.” The boat sank within minutes, plunging nearly 20 metres to the river bed. The sinking occurred about 3 kilometres from shore, in the Kamsko-Ustyinsky District.

According to the investigation, it is the combined actions of the defendants that caused the sinking of the Bulgaria ship on July 10, 2011 in the Kuibyshev Reservoir (of the Volga River). The investigation believes that sinking of the Bulgaria diesel-electric ship was directly caused by the vessel’s poor technical condition that made it unfit for navigation, as well as the improper level of training of the ship’s crew; non-compliance with navigation safety rules, as well as failure to perform or improper performance of their duties by the ship owner, the crew command staff, officials of the supervising bodies and institutions both during the ship’s preparation for the voyage and during the vessel’s operation in the 2011 navigation.

The accident and its consequences were caused by the combination of these violations, a spokesman for the RF Investigative Committee said earlier. The tragedy that happened on July 10, 2011 claimed the lives of 122 people who were on the ship. A total of 79 people were injured.

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