Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mine dangers clear to soldiers, Watts trial told

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CALGARY -- The dangers of the Claymore anti-personnel mine were made abundantly clear to soldiers at an Afghanistan training range before an accident that killed a young corporal, a court martial heard Thursday.

Two witnesses at the hearing for Calgary reservist Maj. Darryl Watts testified Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale, the range safety officer, had stressed the possible consequences of using the C19.

"He was clear about the duties when handling it. He gave a very thorough briefing with the C19," said Master Cpl. Scott Lawrence, a medic who was on the range, four kilometres north of Kandahar city, on Feb. 13, 2010.

"He was clear about soldiers being back behind the (firing) lanes."

Cpl. Josh Baker, 24, died when the explosive device, packed with 700 steel balls, raked a Canadian Forces platoon. He was struck four times and one of the steel balls penetrated his chest.

Four other soldiers were also wounded.

A video taken during the fatal blast appears to show Watts and a number of other soldiers directly in the line of fire when the C19 exploded.

"We were supposed to be behind the lanes," said Cpl. Nathan Armstrong, who prepared one of the Claymores prior to the blast.

"I would say no. I don't believe we are (behind cover). I believe we are in the open there," he said as the video was shown a second time.

The prosecution alleges Watts allowed his men to practise with the C19 without any proper training and with "wanton, reckless disregard."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2012 A17

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