No charges over Brit killed by polar bear

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Photo: Thomas Lysgaard/Scanpix
17:56 CET+01:00
The governor of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago has elected not to bring any charges in the case of a 17-year-old British schoolboy killed by a polar bear last summer.

An investigation into the August 5th incident at the Von Postbreen glacier that left the Eton schoolboy dead and four others injured has concluded that no crime was committed, said deputy governor Lars Erik Alfheim in a statement.

The parents of the victim, Horatio Chapple, have appealed the governor’s decision.

Chapple died after a polar bear attacked a group of young people touring Svalbard with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES). The group had set up camp near the glacier, 40 kilometres from the regional capital Longyearbyen.

“Tripwire flares had been set up around the tent camp, and the group had two signal pens and a rifle,” according to the statement from the governor’s office.

“The equipment had been tested earlier, but the tripwire did not detonate when the bear entered the camp. A leader tried to fire a shot with the rifle, but did not succeed. When he managed to fire the rifle, the bear had already killed the 17-year-old, and wounded four others, amongst them himself.”

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The governor’s office said technical studies had revealed that there were no malfunctions to the rifle, the cartridges or the tripwire flares.

Instead, the accident was the result of “a number of unfortunate circumstances”, leading the governor to conclude that neither BSES nor any of the individuals involved should be charged with criminal negligence.
The prosecutors’ office of Troms and Finnmark will handle the parents’ appeal.

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