Prosecutors demand top penalties over oil spill

5th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - French prosecutors on Monday called for the maximum fine against oil group Total SA and tough sanctions for the manager and the owner of a tanker which sank off France in 1999, causing a major oil spill.

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - French prosecutors on Monday called for the maximum fine against oil group Total SA and tough sanctions for the manager and the owner of a tanker which sank off France in 1999, causing a major oil spill.

The Erika was carrying 30,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil when it broke in two and sank off the Brittany coast on December 12, 1999, polluting 400 kilometres (250 miles) of coastline and killing thousands of seabirds.

Prosecutors called for the maximum legal fine against Total, the French oil firm which chartered the tanker, for "pollution": that comes to 375,000 euros (470,000 dollars) under the terms of a law passed in 1983.

Prosecutors dropped their case against Bertrand Thouillon, the only individual in Total's management to be investigated.

They called for one year in jail, with the possibilty of a suspended sentence, and the maximum 75,000-euro (100,000-dollar) fine each for tanker owner Giuseppe Savarese and manager Antonio Pollara.

Both are being prosecuted for for causing pollution by "recklessness and negligence" and for "putting other people's lives in danger".

Prosecutors called for a 375,000-euro fine for "pollution" against Italian maritime certification company RINA, which was responsible for inspecting repair works on the tanker. They dropped charges against manager Gianpiero Ponasso.

Erika's Indian captain Karun Mathur faces a 10,000-euro fine for pollution, but charges of endangering people's lives were dropped.

Prosecutors called for acquittals for four people from the maritime authorities responsible for helping the stricken Erika, and for the owners of Selmont, a firm from which Total chartered the tanker for a single trip.

All 15 parties caught up in the case had insisted on their innocence.

The French state is seeking 153 million euros in damages to cover the cost of the cleanup and recovery of the wreckage while many of the 70 plaintiffs in the case are demanding hefty compensation.
 

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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