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March 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Charges Dropped for Diver Blamed for His Friends’ Deaths

from the March, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In September, we wrote about a British Sub Aqua Club dive instructor, Stephen Martin, who was fighting extradition to Malta, where he faced a ten-year sentence on the charge of causing the deaths of his girlfriend and a close friend during a dive trip last June.

Martin was on a diving vacation with eight friends when his girlfriend of five years descended from 49 feet to 114 feet without warning. He and another diver went down to help her, but the other diver got in trouble, and by the time Martin got her to shore, she had died of a pulmonary edema. The second diver also died. Martin, a broken man, went home, but soon Maltese authorities accused him of being negligent in his obligations and brought charges. Since he was a certified instructor, "he had failed to keep a close watch," and should have halted the dive, due to "prevailing weather conditions."

He was arrested at home in England on July 7 by local police officers, acting on the European Arrest Warrant. The next day, a British judge approved his extradition to Malta, in line with a treaty between the two countries. He appealed, but was required to wear an electronic ankle tag and appear before police officers three times a week.

In January, a deputation from the British Sub Aqua Club arranged a meeting with the Maltese Authorities in Malta. It became apparent that there was confusion as to whether the deceased was an Open Water Diver (who would only be allowed to dive in Malta if under instruction) or an Advanced Open Water Diver, which she was. On January 18, lawyers for Stephen Martin were advised that all charges had been dropped.

In a country that is a second home to so many British citizens, the charges were clearly beyond the pale. However, they serve as a reminder: when a traveler is in a foreign country, he is subject to the laws of that country, period.

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