After two solid weeks of presenting evidence and building a case against Calgary soldier Maj. Darryl Watts, who stands accused of manslaughter, the prosecution is now resting but there's still no explanation as to why the accident occurred in the first place.
Watts faces prison time in relation to a fatal training accident in Afghanistan two-and-a-half years ago, after a range exercise designed to practice the use and deployment of the Claymore anti-personnel mine took a fatal turn when one of the ordinances exploded, killing Cpl. Joshua Baker and seriously injuring three more members of the Calgary officer's platoon.
In the past two weeks, the prosecution has listened to 23 witnesses, who have answered two key questions in the case against the King's Own Calgary Regiment soldier, who was in charge of the range and was that range conducted safely, prosecutor Maj. Anthony Tamburro is quoted by the CBC as saying.
"We heard from several witnesses who were never behind cover when the C19s were detonated and what we're alleging is that there was negligence in that soldiers should not be allowed to be out in the open that close to the 1C9s when they're going off," Tamburro told the CBC.
But although the soldiers in the range that day were from his platoon Watts was not actually the one running the practice. That was a responsibility he delegated to his platoon's second-in-command, Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale.
"My assessment of it is that.. He wasn't the person in control of this range where the explosives were being fired and that it was not his responsibility," said defence attorney Balfour Der.
"What we heard from today were people who were involved in firing on the C19 – the explosive device that malfunctioned here. And they all, to a man, made it clear that it was not Maj. Watts who was in charge, who was responsible for anything that was going on there," said Der.
But that reasoning doesn't fly in the military system, Tamburro is reported as saying in the Calgary Herald.
"It’s a principle in the military that it is perfectly acceptable for leaders to delegate responsibility, but they can never delegate accountability,” Tamburro said after court.
But the question about why the explosive behaved the way it did, injuring those behind the danger area, has not been answered, Der told the Herald.
“It’s a mystery that will go unsolved as to what actually went wrong with that thing, because by nature it self destructed after it was fired,” said Balfour Der told the Herald.
The C19 is a directional explosive weapon about the size of an Oxford dictionary. When looked from above, it has a semi circular shape, that allows the 700 steel bearings housed at the front of the weapon to disperse in a 60-degree angle from origin.
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Formerly known as the Claymore anti personnel mine by the Canadian Forces, the weapon is used as a directional mine in ambushes or as a security device protecting friendly perimeters. The weapon is command detonated and, although it does have a rear danger area, it is designed to deploy most of its explosive payload, particularly all the bearings, to the front of the weapon.
It's believed that is not what happened during the accident that killed Baker.
Der did not say whether he will call up any witnesses next week but that if he does, Watts will be the first one, the CBC reported.
Many of soldiers brought forward by the prosecution have already stated they do not blame Watts for the accident.
Master Cpl. William Pylypow, who was injured in the incident, testified this week and refused to blame Watts, his former platoon commander, for the accident.
"It's a war zone. It's not intentional. I don't know what the circumstances are, I don't know if I want it classified as an accident, but it is combat so it's unfortunate. I don't want that to happen, but blame is outside that," he told reporters.
Pylypow has fully recovered from his injuries. He described Watts as always well prepared – a captain who cared about everyone under his command.
He recalled the deadly blast, saying, "You felt the air wave hit your face and then my arm got hit and got spun around, so I thought I had lost my arm, to be honest with you, because everything was numb and it was pinned behind my kit."
"When my logic came back, yes, I thought it was Taliban."
The court martial continues Monday.
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