A court in Mauritius on Monday handed down a 20-month prison sentence to the captain and first officer of a Japanese freighter for negligence in navigating the ship after it ran aground off the Indian Ocean island in the summer of last year, spilling a lot of oil. .
The captain, a male Indian national, was arrested along with a Sri Lankan crew member in August last year. Both pleaded guilty to the charges at their trial, but were convicted on December 20.
The court found that on July 25, 2020, the day the vessel owned by Nagashiki Shipping Co. ran aground, a birthday party was held in which alcohol had been consumed for a member of the multinational crew.
The supplied photo, taken on August 16, 2020, shows a bulk carrier that ran aground off the island of Mauritius on July 25 and broke away. (Photo courtesy of lexpress.mu) (Kyodo)
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It stated that an order from the captain to sail closer to Mauritius to obtain a mobile network connection without a crew member checking the safety of the movement led to the accident.
The captain testified at trial that he wanted to connect to the Internet so that the crew could obtain information about the coronavirus situation in their countries of origin and communicate with their families.
The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., was carrying a total of about 3,800 tonnes of fuel oil when it ran aground. More than 1,000 tons of oil began leaking from the ship on August 6 when one of the five fuel tanks cracked, contaminating the mangroves along the coast and damaging the local fishing industry.
According to an official from Nagashiki Shipping, individual compensation is being carried out to local fishermen, but talks with the Mauritian government on compensation for environmental pollution have not progressed.
The freighter was heading to Brazil from China via Singapore when it ran aground near Pointe d’Esny, an area designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.