Three Charged With Manslaughter in Fatal Ship Collision

Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Canadian authorities acting on behalf of the United States charged the captain of a Russian-owned vessel with involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday in connection with the fatal collision of a ship and a U.S. fishing trawler last week.

Police in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland said they were acting on a U.S. arrest warrant, raising the strong possibility that the captain of the Virgo and two crew members would be extradited to the United States to face trial.

The three men were charged in a Newfoundland court with involuntary manslaughter, misconduct and aiding and abetting. A spokeswoman for Primorsk Shipping Corp., which owns the Virgo, said the three had been arrested late on Tuesday.

The ship came under suspicion after three fishermen on board the U.S. trawler Starbound were killed on Aug. 5, when their boat was hit by an unidentified ship off the coast of Massachusetts. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the probe and two U.S. officials flew to Newfoundland to look at the Virgo, which was one of a dozen or so vessels being examined as part of the investigation.

Primorsk said in a statement it was outraged by the arrests, especially since Canadian police representatives had told a court hearing on Monday that the crew members were free to go as they pleased.

Russia formally complained to Ottawa on Tuesday that Canadian police had illegally removed the crew of the Cyprus-registered Virgo during a search of the vessel on Monday. The ship is currently in the Newfoundland port of Come-by-Chance.

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