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Danish Firm Felled for Supplying Fuel to Russia in Syria in 'Very Special' Case

© Photo : Russian Defence MinistryRussian jets at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria
Russian jets at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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While the company Dan-Bunkering argued it couldn't control what its Russian clients, not affected by sanctions, did with the fuel, the court ruled that it must have realised the "overwhelming probability" that it would be used by the Russian military in Syria – an intervention at the official request by the Syrian government, which the EU opposes.
A Danish court has ruled that the Middelfart-based company Dan-Bunkering violated EU sanctions by supplying jet fuel that was used in Russia's operations in Syria.
Dan-Bunkering has been fined DKK 30 million ($4.5 million) for having sold a total of 172,000 tonnes of jet fuel between 2015 and 2017 to a value of around DKK 648 million ($98 million) through 33 trades. In addition, the profit of around DKK 15 million ($2.2 million) will be confiscated, Danish Radio reported.
The trades took place via a branch office in Kaliningrad, Russia, and in several cases the jet fuel was transhipped between vessels on the high seas, the court found.
In a rare trial over violating the EU embargo for Syria, the prosecution had requested a sentence of two years in prison and fines of DKK 400 million ($60 million). Ultimately, though, the chief executive of Bunker Holding, the parent company of Dan-Bunkering, Keld Demant, was given a suspended sentence of four months.
The company and its director pleaded not guilty, arguing that they couldn't control what their Russian clients, not affected by the sanctions, did with the fuel.
The Odense court, however, ruled that Dan-Bunkering in all 33 instances must have realised that it was "overwhelmingly probable" that the jet fuel would be used by the Russian military in Syria. Still, the court didn't find that Dan-Bunkering, or its CEO had violated EU sanctions deliberately, but rather through negligent action.
While the court didn't follow the prosecutor's demands for two years' imprisonment, the verdict is unusual, according to a criminal law expert.

"It's an unusual case because the court has given very large fines and custodial sentences to a director. It is conditional, but still a custodial sentence", professor of criminal law at the University of Copenhagen Thomas Elholm told Danish Radio. "It's not often that we see fines of that magnitude in Denmark. And it is not every day that we see directors who are sentenced to imprisonment", he argued, calling the case "very special". He also ventured that the verdict may later prove to have significance for other cases, especially in determining the level of punishment.

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict began in September 2015, after an official request by the Syrian government for military aid against rebel groups and terrorists. The US and its allies condemned the intervention and imposed economic sanctions against Russia for supporting the Syrian government it vehemently opposes. The EU introduced a trade embargo against Syria on its own.
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