Scuba Diver Magazines

Divers tried to smuggle rebreathers to Libya

Advertisement

Related stories

Maldives Resort Teams up with Olive Ridley Project to Protect Turtles

Green and Hawksbill Turtles feed, play and nest at...

PADI helps protect sharks at CITES

PADI is celebrating a major win in their fight...

Master Liveaboards Black Friday 2022

Master Liveaboards black Friday 2022 offers are coming DEMA is...

DAN celebrates successful 2022

Divers Alert Network (DAN) has a lot to be...

All Star Red Sea set to make a splash

Liveaboards in the Red Sea seem to be getting...

Peter Sotis, the US rebreather instructor who was buddying Sharkwater film-maker Rob Stewart when he died in a deep-diving incident in 2017, has been convicted of attempting to smuggle unlicensed military-grade rebreathers to Libya.

A federal jury has found Florida residents Sotis, 57, of Delray Beach, and another scuba diver Emilie Voissem, 45, of Sunrise, guilty of participating in a scheme to export the CCRs in August 2016. They have yet to be sentenced but face the possibility of long jail terms and fines.

Because of the enhanced capabilities of rebreathers and their potential for military as well as civilian use, they are on the USA’s Commerce Control List of export-controlled items that require licensing by its Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry & Security (DOC-BIS).

The case was investigated by the DOC-BIS and Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The court was told that Sotis and Voissem had been warned that it would be illegal to export unlicensed items to Libya, regarded as a country raising national security concerns. A Department of Commerce special agent had told them that the rebreathers could not be exported while a license application was pending, but they had ignored the warning.

The defendants were said to have lied to and misled Virginia shipping company Ramas LLC about what the agent had told them, and about whether the rebreathers had a military use. Sotis was also found to have threatened a government witness, who had been told not to co-operate with the investigation.

Sotis and Voissem were convicted of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), attempted violation of the act and smuggling. Voissem was found not guilty of making false statements.

According to the suit Sotis and Add Helium, which had taught Stewart to use a rebreather,  had been “in charge of the dive and sold the rebreather equipment used by the divers”. Stewart died following the pair’s third 70m dive of the day to retrieve an anchor on the Queen of Nassau wreck off the Florida Keys.

The pair now face sentencing by a federal district court judge on 6 January, 2022, with a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail and a $1 million fine for attempting to violate the IEEPA, up to five years and a $250,000 fine for the IEEPA conspiracy, and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for smuggling.

In March 2017, reported that Rob Stewart’s parents were bringing a lawsuit against Sotis, his wife Claudia, the Fort Lauderdale dive-school they co-owned, Add Helium, and others in connection with their son’s death earlier in the year.

Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver Magazine is a global publication serving all the major English speaking markets in print and digital format.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Listen to our Podcast

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

Get a weekly roundup of all Scuba Diver news and articles

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest stories
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x