Captain of the Split in Two tanker ship MV Prestige was found Not guilty after 11 years

By Curious
Captain of the sunken oil tanker ship M/V Prestige and its crew member were found not guilty by the Spanish court. The accident, which occurred on 13th of November, 2002 was the worst ever environmental disaster in Spain.

The oil tanker ship MV Prestige sank in the northweastern coast off Spain and polluted thousands of miles of the beaches and Spanish, Portuguese and French coastline. Due to this terrible environment disaster, the Spanish government was forced to close the fishing grounds for over 6 months. The oil tanker ship MV Prestige that split in 2, was carrying about 77,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil at the time of the accident.

Apostolos Mangouras, captain of the sunken oil tanker ship MV Prestige, requested a refuge place for the vessel that had crack in its hull. Which is more interesting is that the Spanish authorities denied permission of the damaged oil tanker ship to enter their territorial waters and forced the ship's master to take his vessel further out to sea. The maritime authorities of Portugal and France also denied the ship's entering in their waters.

The safety of the single-hull oil tanker ship MV Prestige quickly worsen due to rough weather condition and eventually the storm broke the ship's hull, she split in half and spilled all the 77,000 metric tonnes of heavy fuel in Spanish waters. The captain of the sunken oil tanker ship MV Prestige was arrested for "not cooperating" with the salvage team of professionals and causing the worst environmental disaster in Spanish waters.

Apostolos Mangouras, the captain of the sunken oil tanker ship MV Prestige, Nikolasos Argyropoulos, Chief Engineer and Jose Luis Lopez, the former head of Mechant Navy of Spain, were found innocent of crimes against the environment. Jose Lopez, the former head of the Spanish Merchant Navy was the only charged person of the government officials. Apostolos Mangouras, the 78-year-old captain of MV Prestige was sentenced of a lesser charge of disobedience and he was given 9 month suspended sentence.

The decision of the Spanish maritime authorities to forbid entering of the damaged oil tanker ship into Spanish waters was correct, concluded the Spanish court. One of the fuel tanks of the 26-year-old tanker was damaged by a rough storm and the oil tanker ship MV Prestige was forced to drift away for days at sea with 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel onboard.

"The Spanish authorities had the correct advice to evaluate the hypothesis on whether or not the tanker should be moved away from the coast," said Chief Justice Juan Luis Pia, as he read the verdict and sentence out loud in a televised court hearing. Judges said the leak was caused by deficient maintenance which the crew did not know about.