Swedish court sentences drunk captain to prison

Swedish court sentences drunk captain to prison
The Ukrainian captain of a Dutch ship that ran aground this month near the southwestern Swedish port of Helsingborg was on Monday sentenced to one month in prison for "aggravated drunkenness at sea," news agency TT reported on Monday.

Andrey Sharafonenko, 44, was arrested on August 13th shortly after he ran aground the 85-metre Flinterforest in the Öresund strait that separates Denmark and Sweden.

The district court in Malmö found Sharafonenko guilty of aggravated drunkenness and sentenced him to a month behind bars, but let him off with the 17 days served, TT reported. The court had taken into consideration that he would likely never again be able to work as a ship commander, TT said.

According to prosecution charges filed with the court last week, Sharafonenko was at least twice over the legal limit for navigating, which is 0.1 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood. Police had at the time of his arrest said his blood alcohol level, as measured by a breath test, was four times over the limit.

In the charges, prosecutors justified charging the captain with aggravated drunkenness by the fact that he had been working in conditions that demanded his full attention, that the Öresund is a tight passage with heavy traffic and that the way he commanded the ship “posed a significant risk to safety at sea.”

Built in 2004, the Flinterforest cargo vessel belongs to a Dutch shipping company of the same name and is managed by two other companies: Flinter Management and Forestwave Navigation. At the time of the accident, the ship had been carrying paper roles weighing a total of 700 tonnes from Finland to Scotland, TT reported.

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