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Viking Sigyn's captain under arrest once again

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2019.07.31. 17:47 Módosítva: 2019.07.31. 17:47

On Wednesday afternoon, the Hungarian court decided to place the Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn once again. The river cruiser was involved in the tragic accident in Budapest at the end of May. The captain, Yuri C. was already taken into police custody on Monday, a few hours after Hungary's supreme court, the Curia overturned the decision of the Buda Central District Court that released the captain on bail, as confirmed by his lawyer Gábor M. Tóth, who appealed the decision. 

Yuri C. was the captain of the Viking Sigyn river cruiser at the time of its tragic accident with sightseeing boat Hableány on the Danube that happened on 29 May 2019. The accident claimed 28 lives, including the boat's 2-member Hungarian crew and 26 South Korean tourists, one of whom is still missing. There were only seven survivors.

Yuri C. is being charged with endangerment water traffic resulting in a deadly mass catastrophe and as of Monday afternoon, also with failing to provide assistance to persons in danger.

The captain was previously released on a €45 000 bail on 13 June and was placed under criminal surveillance. That means the captain had to wear a tracking device, report to the police twice every week, and not leave the area of Budapest, but otherwise, he could move freely. Prosecutor General Péter Polt appealed the decision soon after, and on Monday, the Curia found the decision unlawful, and police have taken the captain into custody.  The court ordered his arrest today, but Yuri C.'s defender appealed the decision.

Hableány was unfit to be on the water

In other news, Index has managed to acquire expert opinions used in the police investigation, according to which the Hableány was unfit to go out on the Danube:

"At the time of the accident, the Hableány was unfit to be on the water because the crew was missing a sailor."

The extra crew member was necessitated by the fact that the captain's 360° view was obstructed by the boat's chimney and the canopy over the deck. The experts also note that Hableány was not equipped with a radar, which would have greatly helped its manoeuvring on the river in the weather conditions of that night.   

According to Index's information, the fact that crew should have been increased was already noted in the boat's previous registration. The expert noted that the captain of the Hableány should have notified the company operating the Hableány of that fact, but the legal representative of Panorama Deck Kft. told Index:

"It is not true that the Hableány was unfit, it had all the necessary permits to sail. One more crew member would have only resulted in one more victim of the tragedy. Also, a radar is not compulsory equipment on such vessels."

The experts found that the Hableány showed up on the radar of the Sigyn at 9:04 PM, therefore the Sigyn's captain should have seen the sightseeing boat on the screen, and according to the cruiser's alarm history,

the Sigyn's proximity warning system went off one and a half minutes before the collision

but nobody reacted, meaning the Sygin did not indicate its intention to overtake. At the same time, the Hableány's captain also failed to sound the boat's horn five times ti signal the cruiser not to overtake the smaller vessel, which, according to the rules of water traffic, a captain has to do if another vessel is trying to overtake with no notice given beforehand.

This article is an extract from the two originals published in Hungarian by Index on 31 July 2019.

(Cover image: Yuri C., the Viking Sigyn's captain on the corridor of the Buda Central District Court as he was being escorted to the hearing about his arrest on 31 July 2019.  Mónus Márton/MTI)

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