Norway institute seeks charges against Antarctic adventurer

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Norway's polar institute said Thursday it wanted charges to be brought against Norwegian adventurer Jarle Andhoy, the head of an ill-fated mission to Antarctica on which three people went missing and are presumed dead.

"The Norwegian Polar Institute, as the competent authority, has made a decision to formally report the expedition leader of the Berserk expedition to Norwegian prosecuting authorities for violation of the Antarctic regulations," it said in a statement.

It said Andhoy had violated environmental regulations in Antarctica by not informing it of the expedition one year before it took place, adding he did not have the insurance required to cover possible rescue expenses.

The institute stressed that "reporting these violations is independent of the tragic disappearance of the yacht Berserk in the Ross Sea."

The Berserk, a 48-foot (14-metre) sailboat, disappeared after sending out a mayday signal on February 22 after being hit by a massive storm. Three people -- two Norwegians and a dual British and South African citizen -- were on board.

The three men are presumed dead and rescue operations to find them, mostly led by New Zealand, were called off Tuesday.

Expedition head Andhoy and another crew member, 18-year-old Samuel Massie, were not on the ship at the time.

They had gone ashore and were travelling across Antarctica by quad bike heading to the South Pole when the storm hit their support vessel.

Nils Joergen Vordahl, a lawyer who is a friend of Andhoy's, told news agency NTB the adventurer expected a complaint would be lodged against him and knew he might face charges and even a prison sentence.

However, he stressed Andhoy could not take upon himself full responsibility for the ill-fated adventure.

Massie and Andhoy, who said in a statement Thursday there was still hope their three colleagues would be found, were safely evacuated to New Zealand.

© 2011 AFP

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