Spain: Prestige oil spill

Prestige oil spill

Madrid (AFP) - Spain's Supreme Court said Tuesday it had discovered the captain, Uk insurer and owner of an oil tanker that separated off northwestern Spain in 2002 accountable for among European countries's worst ecological disasters.

Reversing an earlier decision acquitting the ship's Greek captain Apostolos Mangouras, the court sentenced the skipper to couple of years' jail as well as discovered mutual insurance company The London P&I Club liable for the catastrophe, plus ship owner Mare Shipping Inc.

The total price of the damage happens to be approximated at 4.1 billion euros ($4.4 billion) and by designating those liable for the tragedy for the first time, Spain's top court finally starts just how for compensation above 13 many years after the spill.

The Prestige tanker ran into trouble in harsh seas in November 2002.

Six days later on, damaged and adrift, it broke in two and sank off the coast of Galicia.

The accident saw 63, 000 tonnes of oil spill in to the sea and blacken 2, 980 kilometres (1, 852 kilometers) of shoreline in Spain, France and Portugal with sludge.

The spill caused huge injury to wildlife additionally the environment, in addition to toward region's fishing business, resulting in a worldwide cleaning work.

- Ageing, malfunctioning ship -

A Spanish judge in 2013 acquitted Mangouras and ship's chief engineer, in addition to a senior Spanish authoritative, of ecological crimes over the wreck, arguing they would not act deliberately or with really serious negligence.

Nevertheless Supreme Court revoked the acquittal for Mangouras, accusing him of "gross neglect" for having sailed at the same time whenever poor weather was possible, understanding that the ship had been old and that the automated pilot no more worked, including.

Mangouras' seamanship was not just dangerous, "he in addition produced a significant threat, especially regarding the highly-polluting nature associated with the material he was carrying, " it concluded.

The London P&I Club, meanwhile, might be responsible for to $1 billion (920 million euros), though no amount has actually however already been determined.

The acquittals in 2013 had triggered an uproar, with thousands protesting in Galician urban centers.

Greenpeace had said the choice offered "a carte blanche on oil industry to jeopardize the environment and residents".

And Spain's State Prosecutor Luis Navajas, who asked the Supreme Court to overturn the acquittals in September, labeled as the decision "flawed" and "notoriously wrong."

On the list of evidence he stated was ignored were notes from the Prestige's previous captain, Stratos Kostazos, that has complained that the tanker was in bad shape together with rejected to sail in it.

The Supreme Court stated Tuesday that two significant power businesses - Spain's Repsol and Britain's BP - had advised against with the Prestige tanker, a 26-year-old vessel with a carrying capability of 81, 000 tonnes.

It added that a person who had struggled to obtain the company that managed the status stated the owners of the ship knew just what state it was in and had dispatched it to Saint Petersburg to "die."

"But... it was decided it would make another sea crossing, which really was its final one, " the court wrote with its statement.

- 'Scapegoat' -

However, Tuesday's statement wasn't satisfied with much enthusiasm.

Greenpeace reported your captain had been utilized as a "scapegoat" while other crucial people in tragedy weren't in dock - including current incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who had been deputy prime minister at that time.

The conservative Popular Party government in power had ordered the Prestige out to sea out of the Spanish coast instead of following an emergency plan that needed it to be taken to port where the leaking oil could be confined.

And Rajoy at first downplayed the gravity of accident, repeatedly describing the black places that starred in the ocean where tanker transpired as "tiny threads of clay".

Raquel Monton of Greenpeace Spain said the actual owner of gasoline it self had never been totally determined, incorporating that the 4.1-billion-euros in damages wanted ended up being a "ridiculous figure."

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