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Dan-Bunkering trial: Denmark also bombed Syria, confirms defence counsel

25 Nov 2021

Disclaimer: An online translation service was used in the production of the current editorial piece, which Manifold Times had reproduction permission from Danish Radio (DR).

Several Danish expert witnesses from the military were questioned in the case against Dan-Bunkering, Bunker Holding and top director Keld Demant during Thursday (18 November) on day 10 of the Dan-Bunkering trial, reports DR.

According to the indictment, Dan-Bunkering illegally supplied 172,000 tons of jet fuel, which was used by Russian planes for bombing raids in Syria from 2015 to 2017; allegedly breaking the EU sanctions.

However, Denmark also bombed Syria – this was argued by Dan-Bunkering’s defence counsel during interrogation of one of the experts.

Denmark also bombed in Syria

Russian fighter jets were busy in Syria during the period when Dan-Bunkering was accused of having supplied jet fuel for use by the Russian military in Syria.

The understanding appeared from witness statements from two officers who appeared in uniform on Thursday at the Court in Odense.

“The planes flew several sorties (missions, ed.) a day, which is not so usual,” explained Major Karsten Marrup, the head of the Center for Air Operations at the Defense Academy. He noted Russia put fighter jets into the Syrian war around October 1, 2015. In the following 16 months, they flew about 20,000 missions. The figure has been stated by the Russian Chief of Defence, and it is a number that most people think is very sensible, he said.

Another expert, Major Mikkel Storm Jensen, explained Russian airstrikes in the fall of 2016 played a crucial role in the fall of the Syrian rebel capital, Aleppo. And for the fact that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still in power today.

Mikkel Storm Jensen, a military analyst at the Defense Academy, also explained the Russian fighter jets have predominantly used old-fashioned and very imprecise bombs in Syria. 

The Russian fabrication is that it is the Islamic group IS that they are defeating. But the weight of Russia’s attack is predominantly against other opponents of President Assad, said Mikkel Storm Jensen from the witness stand.

However, Denmark has also bombed Syria, stated Dan-Bunkering’s defence lawyer, Jacob Skude Rasmussen. Skude Rasmussen projected a website from Operation Inherent Resolve [www.inherentresolve.mil] onto the large screens of the courtroom.

Denmark has twice, most recently in 2016, participated in the operation with F-16 aircraft that have bombed IS forces in Syria and Iraq. And the Danish flag is included as one of many flags on the operation’s website.

  • Jacob Skude Rasmussen: So can we agree that Denmark has bombed Syria? 
  • Henrik Victor Nørgaard, Chief Adviser in the Armed Forces for the purchase of fuel: Yes.
  • Jacob Skude Rasmussen: Who provided the jet fuel for the mission? 
  • Henrik Victor Nørgaard: The Americans did
  • Jacob Skude Rasmussen: But were there European suppliers?
  • Henrik Victor Nørgaard: I do not know

How the defenders will use the information about the Danish bombing raids in Syria was not further explained in court on Thursday.

Former Deputy Director of Bunker Holding remembered very little about the jet fuel deal

A former deputy director of Bunker Holding, Søren Høll, also took over the witness stand on Thursday.

He was involved in several internal mail correspondences about jet fuel during the period when Dan-Bunkering, according to the indictment, supplied jet fuel for use in Syria.

“We get more inquiries and orders for jet fuel. But we are aware that our insurance does not cover [this activity],” Søren Høll wrote to a group of office managers in November 2015. The period was shortly after Dan-Bunkering, according to the indictment, had started delivering jet fuel to a Russian customer who bought on behalf of Russia’s military.

  • Prosecutor Anders Rechendorf: Why did you write about it right at that time? 
  • Søren Høll: I do not remember

In the email, Søren Høll wrote negotiations were underway with the group’s insurance company to cover deals in jet fuel. But Søren Høll could not remember in court on Thursday what had come out of it.

  • Anders Rechendorf: Did you consider which customers wanted jet fuel?
  • Søren Høll: I do not remember

A year later, Søren Høll got involved in another mail correspondence about jet fuel.

Bunker Holding’s credit manager wrote to a number of credit employees that the group saw more and more “exotic” business ideas, and that in the future such operations should pass Keld Demant or the group’s CFO.

And Deputy Director Søren Høll asked in an email back:

“What about jet fuel and gas oil? It probably belongs to what is to pass KRD or JKH [Keld Demant or the CFO].”

The response from the credit manager was that it did.

The mail exchange was from February 2017. At that time, Dan-Bunkering was still in the process of delivering jet fuel to the Russian customer. And Søren Høll wrote that he would send the message to those in charge of the dealers at Dan-Bunking’s office in Russia.

But in court on Thursday, Søren Høll did not remember the email exchange, he told the defence lawyer.

  • Søren Høll : You show it to me, and I can see that I have written it. But I do not remember it.

He also did not remember what happened next after the email.

Central Russian witnesses are unlikely to show up

When the court meets again on Tuesday (23 November), it is planned two Russian employees of Dan-Bunkering will appear and testify.

The two Russians run Dan-Bunkering’s office in Russia, and they are the ones who have been responsible for concluding the deals with jet fuel for the Russian military.

The behind-the-scenes police have via a lawyer written to the two men, who are father and son, and asked them to testify in the Court in Odense.

Since the start of the trial, it was unsure if the two have received the letter at all, but via a lawyer they have reported back in the week ended 21 November.

The lawyer does not report a direct cancellation for the two men, but explains in his letter about the problems they will encounter to give an explanation in the Danish case.

However, presiding judge Jens Lind said at the conclusion of Thursday’s court hearing that he will not cancel the Russian interpreter for Tuesday (23 November).

  • Jens Lind: It will be a pity if the two Russian witnesses come and there is no one to interpret.

Note: Earlier Manifold Times coverage regarding Bunker Holding/Dan-Bunkering’s alleged breaches of EU sanctions can be found below:

Related: Dan-Bunkering trial: Prosecutors question Bunker Holding CEO Keld Demant
Related: Dan-Bunkering trial: Prosecution examines revealing email to Group Directors
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Related: Prominent prosecutor to lead spectacular lawsuit against Dan-Bunkering
Related: Bunker Holding:  ‘No signs’ in alleged breach of EU sanctions post internal investigation
Related: Experts: Bunker Holding alleged jet fuel sale significant to outcome of Syrian War
Related: Bunker Holding ‘surprised’ at fuel sale charge; maintains ‘full confidence’ in Group CEO
Related: Danish prosecutor proposes jail sentence for Bunker Holding Group CEO over jet fuel sale
Related: Bunker Holding & Dan Bunkering allegedly charged over EU sanctions violations
Related: Dan Bunkering ‘surprised’ SØIK has pressed charges over alleged EU sanction violations
Related: Dan-Bunkering: Everything has been investigated – the case should be closed
Related: Name ban on parties involved with Dan-Bunkering Syrian jet fuel deal lifted
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Related: Update: Dan-Bunkering Syria jet fuel supply ops allegedly longer than thought
Related: Dan-Bunkering faces preliminary charges by SOIK with violation of EU Syria sanctions
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Related: Danske Bank casts doubts on Dan-Bunkering reason for Syria investigation
Related: Danske Bank reported Dan-Bunkering to police in EU sanctions case
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Related: Dan-Bunkering has not violated EU’s sanctions against Syria, it insists
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Related: Danish media alleges Dan-Bunkering jet fuel deliveries during Syria war

 

Photo credit: Jatin singh from Unsplash
Source: DR
Published: 25 November, 2021

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