- Fine issued after captain pleads guilty to marine pollution charge
- Captain can be released after payment of Rs. 12m and not Rs. 200 m, as demanded by AG, says Court
- Tanker currently being towed to UAE
The Colombo High Court yesterday fined the troubled crude oil tanker MT New Diamond’s Captain Rs. 12 million after the accused pleaded guilty to the charges of marine pollution filed against him.
|MT New Diamond, Capt. Sterio Ilias
Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera last week filed indictments regarding the oil spill caused by the fire on board the MT New Diamond, citing the vessel captain’s failure to report the fire and subsequent oil spill in violation of Sections 26 and 38 of the Marine Environment Pollution Authority (MEPA) Act.
de Livera sought a court order for Rs. 200 million as compensation after the suspect, Capt. Sterio Ilias, pleaded guilty, the Attorney General’s Coordinating Secretary State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.
However, the Colombo High Court ruled for the accused to be released after the settlement of a fine of Rs. 12 million, stating that the court will not issue such an order as it would be prejudicial to both parties.
The vessels owners have settled two interim claims worth Rs. 442 million, filed by the Government for costs incurred in responding to the vessel in distress. An environment impact report, assessing the damages to the marine environment due to the oil leakage from the MT New Diamond, is being conducted by an expert panel lead by MEPA. The report will take several months to prepare, a senior MEPA official told the Daily FT.
The MT New Diamond was 38 nm (70 km) off Sangamankada Point on the East Coast when the distress call was issued on 2 September. The 20-year-old Panamanian-registered super tanker (330 m long) was carrying a consignment of 270,000 MT of crude oil for the Indian Oil Company from a port in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip when the fire broke out.
The super tanker is presently being towed to the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under escort by the Indian Coast Guard.(AF)