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Canadian death driver on trial

A Canadian accused of driving without a license and causing the death of a French passenger in his car has gone on trial in Shanghai.

Yesterday the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court asked defendant Perez Nathaniel to provide more evidence to support his application to be exempted from a criminal penalty.

Prosecutors have charged Nathaniel, 39, a deputy general manager of a Hong Kong company in the city, with traffic offences and suggested he serve a maximum sentence of three years.

On the night of August 10, 2008, Nathaniel and his French friend Akhavan Alex returned to the city from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Because Alex had drunk a good deal at dinner, Nathaniel offered to drive the car though he knew he didn't have a current driving license, prosecutors said.

Nathaniel was driving at 120 kilometers per hour on the Qingpu part of the expressway but crashed into a truck traveling in the same direction.
The car was mangled beneath under the truck and Alex, who was sitting beside the driver, died from head injuries.

The police found that Nathaniel held an invalid Chinese driving license which had been issued in June 2006 and decided he should bear the major responsibility for the accident. The truck driver had a lesser responsibility because the rear lights of the truck were not working.

The defendant asked for exemption from criminal punishment.

He told the court that the truck had changed lanes suddenly when he was driving at speed to pass the truck and this had caused the accident. He said he had 20 years driving experience and had a Canadian driving license.

Even though his Chinese driving license was invalid when the accident took place, he was a good driver.

His lawyer said that the traffic police had erred because they neglected to see that marks on the road proved the truck had changed lanes.

The lawyer said Nathaniel had been very upset and had had to miss the funeral of a family member because he was not allowed to leave China before the case was settled. Alex's family has forgiven him.

The court then requested the defendant provide evidence for his case.


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