Military Officials Under Investigation For Part In Erika Spill

Friday, May 26, 2000
Three military officials working at the Brest maritime office in western France have been put under investigation over alleged failure to react to the sinking of the tanker Erika, judicial sources said. The sources said the three officials were being investigated for "willfully failing to take measures to battle a disaster."

The officials were on duty at between December 11-12, when the Maltese-registered Erika broke up and sank. Admiral Yves Naquet-Radiguet, the maritime prefect for France's Atlantic coast, was not informed of the situation until the morning of December 12, when the tanker had already split in two.

The magistrate in charge of the case, Dominique de Talance, has been investigating any shortcoming by maritime authorities between Erika's first distress call early in the afternoon of December 11 and the December 12 shipwreck.

Magistrates have already placed the Erika's Indian Captain Karun Mathur under investigation for maritime pollution and putting the lives of others at risk. The tanker's owners and the firm charged with maintaining the ship are being investigated on the same grounds as well as for failing to take sufficient measures to fight the spill.

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