'Prestige' Master and officers in dock 10 years after sinking
(Oct 19 2012)
Some 10 years after the sinking of the tanker 'Prestige' off the Spanish coast, four men, including the vessel's Master, went on trial this week in a northern Spanish Court.
The sinking was claimed to have caused the worst oil slick in Spain's history, as 50,000 tonnes of fuel oil was dumped into the sea.
The first day of the trial, held at an exhibition centre in the northern city of La Coruna, was dominated by procedural questions, with the accused only expected to take the stand in November.
Apostolos Mangouras, 78, the `Prestige's' Greek Master, is charged alongside two other officers and a Spanish official over the oil spill, which polluted thousands of kilometres of beaches in Spain, Portugal and France.
Prosecutors are demanding 12 years' jail for Mangouras, who is charged with harming the environment along with Greek chief engineer Nikolaos Argyropoulos and first mate Irineo Maloto, a Filipino who was not apprehended.
The fourth defendant is Jose Luis Lopez-Sors, head of the Spanish merchant navy at the time, who ordered the ship out to sea when it was leaking the fuel oil.
Mangouras attended the opening session of the trial along with Argyropoulos and Lopez-Sors.
According to AP news wire, environmental groups complained that key people responsible for the disaster were not being tried and warned that the lessons from the disaster had not been learnt.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was deputy prime minister at the time of the accident, is among those who should be held accountable for his government's handling of the accident, they said.
Spanish non-government group Environmentalists in Action also said charges should be brought against ABS, the tanker's class society.
The total cost of the environmental damage caused by the oil slick has been calculated at more than 4 bill, most of it for the Spanish state.
`Prestige' leaked 50,000 tonnes of fuel into the Atlantic after it sank off northern Spain. It took on water in a storm on 13th November 2002, and drifted for six days before breaking up and sinking.
After three days of procedural matters this week, the defendants are due to make their first appearance in the trial on 13th November, the 10th anniversary of the disaster.
The trial is due to last until May 2013 and will hear testimony from 133 witnesses and 100 experts, the Court said.
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