Guilty 'Rena' Officers Serve Jail Terms, Go Free
Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Ship captain Mauro Balomaga, 44, and navigator Leonil Relon, 37, released after serving seven months in New Zealand prison.

The pair  were sentenced to seven months' jail in May for operating a vessel in a manner likely to cause danger, discharging a contaminant and altering ship documents.

With sentences under two years, the Filipino men were to be automatically released after serving half of their jail term.Balomaga's lawyer Paul Mabey confirmed to Fairfax NZ News that the pair were being released from Waikeria Prison and would then be deported to the Philippines.

The men were charged under the Maritime Transport Act, Resource Management Act and Crimes Act after the Rena crashed on the Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year.

During their sentencing in the Tauranga District Court, Judge Robert Wolff said there were "systematic failures" in the ship's navigation which was the captain's responsibility.

Balomaga was obsessed with arriving in Tauranga by 3am that day, and "put in train an unfortunate series of events that ultimately resulted in the accident," he said.

"In short the quality of navigation was such that you didn't have an accurate idea of precisely where you were. Your vessel did not have the appropriate charts that it ought to have had. "After the collision you altered documents in order to obfuscate and cover up the reason the vessel collided with the reef."
Source: Fairfax NZ News

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