Lanka court imposes fine of USD 64,972 on Greek captain of fire-damaged oil tanker

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Colombo, Oct 14 (PTI) A Sri Lankan high court on Wednesday ordered the Greek captain of an oil tanker, which carried crude oil from Kuwait to India and caught fire off the country's eastern Ampara coast, to pay a fine of USD 64,972 after he pleaded guilty to the marine environment pollution charge.

The Panamanian-registered New Diamond was carrying 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil from Kuwait to India when a boiler explosion in its engine room caused fire on September 3.

The Sri Lanka Navy with the help from the Indian Navy and coast guards doused the fire after three days. Two Sri Lankan naval ships, one Indian naval ship and three Indian coast guard vessels were deployed in the operations.

Last week, Sri Lanka indicted the Greek captain for causing the oil spill under the country’s Marine Pollution Prevention Act.

Captain Sterio Illias pleaded guilty to the marine environment pollution charge at the Colombo High Court. Accordingly, a fine of Sri Lankan Rs 12 million (USD 64,972) was levied, court officials said.

He appeared before the court on September 28 for negligence and not putting in place safety measures to prevent fire on board.

The captain was barred from leaving the country although no remand order was served on him in spite of a state request.

The tanker had 23 crew members - 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. Twenty-two of its 23-member crew had been safely rescued off the tanker. PTI CORR CPS