Environment: fine for a polluter

The owner of an Italian oil tanker, the San Matteo, has been sentenced for "illegal dumping" of oil in the Mediterranean

The Marseille criminal court on Wednesday fined 330.000 euros for the shipowner of the San Matteo and 10.000 euros for its captain.

The court also awarded 2.000 euros in damages to four associations which had brought civil actions.

A French Navy surveillance plane had seen a continuous trail of oil over 6,8 km long and 20 meters wide in the wake of the oil tanker San Matteo, 268 km south of Marseille and 241 km east of west of Sardinia, in an ecological protection zone.

At the request of the public prosecutor, the maritime prefect had the oil tanker diverted to Marseilles, where he remained immobilized until the payment of a bond of 300.000 euros.

Before the court, the captain of the ship armed by Petrolmar had reaffirmed that he was unable to explain this pollution, repeating only that the traces spotted by the Navy could come from the wash water from the tanker deck, which the sailors had just carried out .

"We are always served the same dishes and the same roguish explanations," added prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon, saying that "the stories of washing the bridge are only a smoke screen" and stressing that the discharges had stopped as soon as the overflight of the tanker by the military surveillance plane.

Read also: The weekend agenda.

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