Sailors, kin of convicted Indian shipping officers of mot Hebei Spirit seek justice

January 10th, 2009 - 9:49 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Jan.10 (ANI): Merchant navy sailors and relations of Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Shyam Chetan, the two convicted Indian shipping officers of vlcc (very large crude carrier) ”Hebei Spirit”, staged a demonstration in New Delhi on Saturday seeking justice and their release by contending they were not guilty for the collision of the anchored tanker with a crane barge in Korea.
The protestors were seeking justice and release of the two jailed Indian marine officers by contending they were not primarily guilty for the collision of the tanker with a barge of Samsung in Korea.
Further, the protestors among whom a good number happened to be commoners other than sailors and kin of the convicted officers also pledged to boycott all the Samsung products.
The jailing of the two senior officers of vlcc Hebei Spirit after initially being found innocent has outraged the international shipping industry.
As such leaders and members of Indian Seafarers Federation, International Transport Workers” Federation, Dock Workers Union have also lent their support to this demand.
“We want that those convicted officers should be freed as soon as possible. We want to appeal this to the Government. Whenever we ask them about their condition they say that they are working on it. This has been going on from the last one and a half months; I don”t know what is happening. Nothing has been done regarding their bail application. They should at least be released on bail because they are not criminals but professionals,” said Priya, sister of Shyam Chetan, Chief Officer mot Hebei Spirit.
It may be recalled that nearly a year after the Chinese registered vlcc ”Hebei Spirit”, a huge oil tanker owned by V Ships of Hong Kong collided with a barge crane of Samsung in December 2007, her Master Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Shyam Chetan were sentenced to jail terms.
On December 10, 2008, Chawla was jailed for 18 months and also fined 1000 US dollars while Shyam Chetan was awarded 8 months imprisonment on charges of negligence resulting in marine pollution.
The demonstrators pointed out that prior to the pronouncement of these terms by the Daejeon District Court in South Korea, they were found not guilty by the designated inquiry committee and also a court on June 23, 2008.
The international community and the shipping fraternity are disturbed and have termed the judgment as outrageous.
The matter is now in Supreme Court of Korea and the seafarers have applied for their bail.
It seems South Korea will come under increasing pressure later this month to release the Master and Chief Officer of vlcc ”Hebei Spirit”. (ANI)

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