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Saturday, November 17, 2018

INTERTANKO Leads International Calls for Fair and Open Trial for Nissos Amorgos Master

The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) is calling upon the Venezuelan authorities to give the master of the Greek-flag tanker Nissos Amorgos, Captain Konstandinos Spiropulos, a fair and open trial, and to release him while his defence case is being prepared. Captain Spiropulos has recently been charged with causing damage to the marine environment of Venezuelan arising out of the spill of 4,000 tonnes of oil from his ship following a grounding incident in the Maracaibo Channel on the night of 28 February 1997.

The tanker captain, who has now been formally charged, will next appear at a court hearing in Cabimas on 10 December 1997. At that time an application will be made by his defence lawyer for Captain Spiropulos to be granted a leave of absence while evidence is being gathered and reviewed, and his case is being prepared INTERTANKO, on behalf of independent tanker owners worldwide, strongly supports this application. The Association believes that the master, having now been away from his family for eight and one-half months, has received less than satisfactory treatment from Venezuelan authorities. He has been held in the country since February, with the exception of a 30-day period he was allowed to return home during the summer. His temporary release was only sanctioned after a great deal of international pressure, led by INTERTANKO, was brought to bear on the Venezuelan judiciary. He returned to the country, as requested, on 13 September. It is only in the last few weeks that specific charges have been lodged against him in a 110-page writ.

"INTERTANKO has monitored the allegations against Captain Spiropulos closely from the outset, and given them our constant, careful attention," stated Dagfinn Lunde, Managing Director of INTERTANKO. "Throughout this harrowing period for the master, we have had great difficulty in seeing where blame attaches to him. We believe that much evidence about the questionable sate of the waterway management arrangements for the Maracaibo Channel will come to light during the trial.

"INTERTANKO will continue to monitor proceedings to ensure Captain Spiropulos receives a fair and open trial based on the true facts. The Association will review all court files and documented evidence, and will have representatives at the trial. In the meantime, we call upon Venezuela to release the captain at the 10 December arraignment on the understanding that he will return for the trial. He has proven himself to be an honourable man and there is no reason to hold him further," concluded Dagfinn Lunde.