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Philippines freighter firmdenies French trawler killings

MANILA, Feb 20 (AFP) – The owners of a Philippines-flagged cargo ship which has been accused of sinking a French trawler Friday denied involvement in the incident and offered to have the vessel inspected at a neutral port.

Victoria Shipping and Management pledged to cooperate in finding those responsible for the January 15 sinking in the English Channel of the Bugaled Breizh which left five French fishermen dead.

The company’s 39,000-ton bulk carrier Seattle Trader, now sailing through the Red Sea, is one of six ships being investigated for a possible role in the boat’s sinking.

“We believe it’s not that ship,” company director Vicente Miranda told AFP. “It is not a Filipino practice to leave the scene of an accident.”

The freighter is headed for the Chinese port of Fangcheng and Miranda said the owners and crew would fully cooperate once the vessel has docked.

“If the French authorities want to inspect it, detain it, let us just unload the cargo first and do the proper investigation and have all the diplomatic (coordination with) the Philippine government,” he said.

Miranda also said the owners were willing to have the ship searched and inspected at a neutral venue, but not in the African nation of Djibouti which it is scheduled to pass on Sunday.

“We just want a fair venue,” he said. “If they wanted to, they could assign Navy divers to look at its hull while it is passing through,” Miranda said.


                                                              Subject: France news