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Ferry sinking trial begins

The Crown says the navigation officer who was piloting the Queen of the North passenger ferry the night it sank seven years ago, killing two people, made no attempt to steer the ship away from the island that it hit.

Karl Lilgert is charged with criminal negligence causing the deaths of Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, who were killed after the ferry ran aground and sank in the early hours of March 22, 2006.

Crown lawyer Robert Wright has opened the trial by telling jurors the evidence will show Lilgert missed a crucial turn and travelled straight for about 22 minutes before hitting Gil Island without taking any evasive actions to change course.

Wright says Lilgert failed in his duties to keep a lookout and maintain his course, despite having modern navigation technology on board, and did not communicate any problems to other crew or the ship's captain.

Lilgert was charged in March 2010, four years after the sinking, and has pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last up to six months, prompting the judge to take the unusual step of appointing 14 jurors instead of 12 to ensure there won't be a mistrial if any jurors are discharged.

The Canadian Press


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