Tag Archives: Spain

Spain to Try Bulgarian Sailors Busted on Cocaine-Loaded Ship

Despite Bulgaria’s hopes for a domestic trial, it will be Spain that will be trying 21 Bulgarian sailors on drug trafficking charges, after last week the Spanish authorities captured the Bulgarian ship St. Nikolay with 3 metric tons of cocaine on board.

“The Bulgarian sailors from the St. Nikolay ship must be tried in Spain,” Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters Thursday night upon meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetan Tsvetanov in Madrid, the bTV channel reported.

Tsvetanov, who went to Spain specially for the cocaine ship affair together with Commissar Stanimir Florov, head of the Bulgarian anti-mafia unit GDBOP, in turn declared that the sailors must receive a “fair trial”, no matter where it would take place, and that “those responsible must bear their punishment, even if it is the harshest one.”

According to the Bulgarian Interior Minister, the crew of the Bulgarian vessel must first “help themselves” before they can expect assistance from anybody else by cooperating with the investigation.

At the same time, the Spanish authorities released more detailed data about the St. Nikolay cocaine ship affair.

According to their information, the Bulgarian vessel was loaded with cocaine between July 20 and July 24, 2012, in Venezuela.

Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz hinted that he believes that all sailors on board of the St. Nikolay ship were aware that they were transporting cocaine since they spent some 20 days on board with the shipment.

Edited from http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=142572


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SHIPPING | Spain detains Russian vessel over pollution offences


The M/V "Vysokogorsk"

The M/V "Vysokogorsk"



Brian Reyes | Lloyd’s List | 2010.10.26

SPANISH maritime authorities this week detained a Russian-owned ship suspected of causing pollution while sailing off Galicia, the region devastated by the Prestige spill in 2002.

The case, which comes just weeks before the expected start of the Prestige criminal trial in La Coruña, highlights Spain’s continued tough stance on marine polluters.

In the wake of the Prestige casualty, Spain took a leading role in international efforts to clamp down on polluters and to this day maintains a tight watch over vessels sailing through its waters.

But this latest incident, although not uncommon, illustrates that marine pollution remains a sensitive issue in the public eye.

Although the alleged pollution was relatively minor, the case has received wide coverage in the Spanish media at both regional and national level.

It dates back to October 21 when a patrol plane spotted a 20 km slick off Cabo Prior and identified as the most likely culprit a general cargoship, Vysokogorsk, operated by the Far Eastern Shipping Co.

When the vessel called at Algeciras several days later, maritime officials moved in.

Spain’s Merchant Marine Directorate stopped the ship and opened an investigation into the case, imposing a €150,000 ($208,000) bond for the vessel’s release and issuing a statement to announce the move.

The money, which has already been posted by the company, will cover any possible fine plus operational costs relating to the case. Should no blame be apportioned, it will be returned.

Fesco did not reply to requests from this newspaper for comment.

However, Pyotr Ositchansky, an official with the Russian seafarers’ union, was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying the situation had been exaggerated by the Spanish authorities.

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PRESTIGE | Spain appeals latest decision

Spain files a notice of appeal in the US Court of Appeals

Rajesh Joshi | LLOYD’S LIST

SPAIN has appealed against a US district court ruling from last month that threw out the country’s $1bnPrestige lawsuit against ABS.

This is Spain’s second appeal in this case since 2008. The appeal perpetuates the seven-year-old lawsuit, which already has become legendary in certain quarters as the biggest lawsuit in maritime history.

Spain yesterday filed a notice of appeal in the US Court of Appeals against the district court’s August 20 order dismissing Spain’s complaint.

As Lloyd’s List has reported, a Spanish appeal appeared to be inevitable following the August 20 ruling, in which district court Judge Laura Taylor Swain threw out the country’s case for the second time in 32 months.

The content of Spain’s new appeal, as well as the appellate judge before whom the appeal would come up, would become clear only in the weeks ahead, after a scheduling conference takes place.

In the country’s first public statement since the August verdict, Spain’s lead counsel Brian Starer told Lloyd’s List on Wednesday night: “Clearly, the district court decision is out of step with maritime law that has existed for hundreds of years.

“In short, ABS cannot partake in reckless misconduct which causes damage to a third party and then simply walk away with no responsibility. Our appeal will face this finding head on, and seek to establish that ABS does, indeed, bear liability for reckless conduct.”

ABS vice-president for external affairs Stewart Wade countered: “We are not at all surprised that Spain appealed. However, we remain confident that the circuit court will uphold the district court verdict, and vindicate ABS’ victory.”

At issue is Judge Swain’s verdict in August that accepted Spain’s contention that US law and not the laws of China or the United Arab Emirates as contended by ABS applied to the case, but held that US law “imposed no duty on ABS that is enforceable by Spain”.

Judge Swain was ruling on Spain’s insistence on holding ABS accountable for recklessness on top of negligence, which in Spain’s view makes a jury trial mandatory.

Spain’s case came up short twice in Judge Swain’s courtroom. The first instance was in January 2008 when she stymied Spain’s pursuit of the case by ruling that it was precluded by the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution to which the country and Prestige flag state Bahamas are signatories.

In an apparent U-turn, Judge Swain ruled last month that the CLC was a non-issue because US law indeed applied, but she was throwing out Spain’s case anyhow.

Legal sources close to Spain had expressed outrage to Lloyd’s List after Judge Swain’s August verdict, stating that as a sovereign nation, Spain was entitled to “its day in court” regardless of the alleged whims of a solitary American judge.

Now that the case has officially left Judge Swain’s docket, Spain also hopes for an entirely “new beginning” before a new set of judges.

Spain sued ABS in May 2003 for alleged negligence in certifying the 1976-built, 81,564 dwt tanker Prestige as fit. It sank off Spain in November 2002, for which $1bn was sought to reimburse Spain for claims paid out.

Observers are following the matter with deeper interest in light of the fact that ABS classed Deepwater Horizon.

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Study: Oil spill cleanup workers suffered chromosome damage, respiratory issues

Spanish fishermen who took part in a clean-up operation after the Prestige oil tanker spill in 2002 have shown symptoms of chromosomal damage and respiratory problems, a study released Tuesday said.

The study, conducted by Spanish researchers between September 2004 and February 2005 on 501 fishermen who helped clean up Europe’s worst oil spill, was published in the American review Annals of Internal Medicine.

On November 19, 2002 Liberian-flagged oil tanker the Prestige broke up and sank off Galicia in northwestern Spain, a region famed for its pristine coastline and ecological diversity.

The ship spewed 64,000 tonnes of thick, heavy fuel oil into the waters, polluting thousands of kilometres (miles) along the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal.

The Spanish study said “those who participated in the clean-up had a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms, higher levels of markers suggestive of airway injury in exhaled breath condensate, and chromosomal alterations in lymphocytes compared with those who did not participate in clean-up activities.”

It said “chromosomal damage in circulating lymphocytes is an early marker of genotoxicity associated with increased risk for cancer.”

It concluded that “participation in clean-up of a major oil spill seemed to have adverse health effects.”

But it warned that “the study does not prove that oil exposure caused the abnormalities.”

And it said “the findings cannot be extrapolated to spills of other types of oil” and “therefore cannot predict what effects individuals exposed to other oil spills, such as that in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, might experience.”

But the researchers urged that “the authorities responsible for organizing (oil) clean-up operations take appropriate measures to guarantee the health protection of those involved in the clean-up activities and establish registries to systematically assess possible adverse health outcomes in exposed workers over time.”

Source: Agence France-Presse

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LAW AND PIRACY | Bow Saga pirates released, Intertanko incensed

Would Jack Bauer be able to make it?

By Eoin O’Cinneide in London | TRADEWINDS

Strict Spanish law, a public holiday in Kenya and a lack of legal frameworks conspired to set free seven pirates who attacked an Odfjell-chartered tanker this week.

The release of the Somali men who assaulted the 40,100-dwt Bow Saga(built 2007) in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday has incensed shipping body Intertanko which said owners and crew were likely to feel let down by the decision.

Counter-piracy force EU NAVFOR took the decision to let go the seven pirates apprehended by troops from the Spanish warship SPS Victoria following the armed attack in the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC).

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, spokesperson Lieutenant Per Klingvall told TradeWinds that the main issue was a timing constraint imposed by Spanish law. As the arresting party was a Spanish warship, authorities had only 24 hours from the time of arrest until charges could be brought against the men.

A lack of a proper legal framework in Spain or Norway, as the flag state, to deal effectively with pirates meant the piracy body had to turn to Kenya as the only option. However, their efforts were thwarted by a public holiday in the East African country ahead of a referendum on Thursday.

This was a very special case,” Klingvall said of the issues which conspired against seeking any conviction against the men. “We really tried to get an agreement.”

Klingvall said EU NAVFOR would have had to have compiled all the relevant evidence, interviewed the ship’s master, found the correct person in Kenya to push through a prosecution and presented them with the evidence, all within 24 hours of the pirates’ arrest. A decision was taken just before the time had elapsed that this was not workable.

The seven men were taken by the Victoria to an undisclosed location in the north of the Horn of Africa on Wednesday afternoon. For operational reasons Klingvall was unable to disclose the exact location or say if the men were handed over to any authorities. The Victoria then returned to its mission in the IRTC.

Asked if this situation was likely to result from every arrest from a Spanish warship in the region, Klingvall disagreed, pointing to the public holiday in Kenya as the main spanner in the works this time around.

“We will learn from this and speed up the procedures. But every case is unique.”

When confronted with the criticism from Intertanko, the spokesperson replied:

“We stopped 29 sailors from being hostages but I’m not pleased that we were not able to prosecute the pirates”.

Prior to EU NAVFOR’s decision to release the men, Intertanko had issued a statement calling for their prosecution. On hearing of their release, the organisation quickly issued a second statement slamming the move.

“Releasing the Bow Saga pirates back to Somalia is a bitter blow to the shipping industry (and to its seafarers) in the global fight against piracy. This undoubtedly will also disappoint those governments that have encouraged the detention and prosecution of pirates.

“Intertanko and its members remain committed to assist in every way possible in bringing to justice those caught in the act of piracy.”

Jan Hammer, chief executive of Odfjell which has the Gearbulk-owned Bow Saga on charter, was not immediately available for comment on Thursday morning.

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MARITIME | Almería judgment is harsh news for terminal operator

Felipe Arizon | Partner, Arizon Abogados SLP

THE magistrate of the Commercial Court of Almería, well-known in shipping and commercial law following the English Court of Appeal decision of 2009 in the case of the Wadi Sudr, where the effects of his decision was questioned under the European Commission council regulation number 44/2001, has issued a judgment which holds that the owners of Iran Hamzeh are not responsible for the consequences of an accident that occurred with a shore crane in Carboneras on January 26, 2008.

In his 49-page judgment, the magistrate found the ship’s master was not negligent during the berthing manoeuvre that led to the accident. The judgment represents harsh news for the terminal operator, an international cement group company, which following the accident applied for the arrest of the ship in the amount of €1.4m (£1.7m). Wrongful arrest damages could follow.

The early evidence obtained during the first months after the accident, where the magistrate, in an unprecedented move in Spain for this type of case, agreed to an early hearing to cross-examine the master and the pilot, turned out to be of paramount importance to ensure the court had early and proper records of what actually happened during the manoeuvre.

The judgment is good news for the other two defendants involved — the pilot and the tugs.

While the tugs have been held to have contributed to the cause of the accident, they are exempted from liability as the magistrate considered the terminal’s non-removal of the old crane from the dock was the cause of the accident, and in any case the court held that the crane was of no value.

Furthermore, the magistrate said the terminal did not act loyally with the shipowners by failing to cancel the shipment, while the ship had been declared off hire by the time charterers.

He held that the terminal was in breach of its obligation to mitigate losses, act in good faith and cancel the shipment.

Nevertheless, in the magistrate’s view the loss of hire before the arrest of the ship cannot be passed on to the terminal as the chain of causation was broken by the fact that the ship could not leave port before it complied with the Almería harbour master’s request concerning the extent of the ship’s damages.

This compliance, achieved by the report of Lloyds’ Register on the ship’s condition and class, was delivered to the harbour master the very same day the ship was arrested by the terminal.

The magistrate has gone further and agreed that the representative of the ship agent office in this case, a company nominated and belonging to the terminal group, should have refused to become the protecting agent for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons.

This is an important decision that follows the line of the Spanish Supreme Court judgment of 2007, which considers that in a collision case with a shore crane, the master’s tort liability for damages has to be objectively and subjectively arising from his way of acting, otherwise the master, and hence the shipowner, will be exempted from liability.

Source: http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/sector/regulation/article171446.ece?src=Search

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