The 86th session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) kicked off its heavy agenda this morning, 27 May, with an introduction by IMO Secretary General Efthimios Mitropoulos, which was swiftly followed by an intervention by India on the Hebei Spirit and the continued detainment of the two officers.
Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan, who were both found innocent of all charges at first instance but subsequently found guilty by the Daejeon District Court of breaching marine pollution laws and negligence, have recently been acquitted by the Supreme Court of those charges giving rise to prison sentences. See previous article The case has been remitted to the Daejeon District Court for re-examination and it is understood that the final hearing was held yesterday, with the anticipated judgment releasing the two detained officers to be handed down on 11 June.
India’s appeal, which welcomed the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn the prison sentences and called upon the Government of Korea to right wrongs done, was supported by several delegations and international organisations. Several international organisations, including BIMCO, have been working hard to maintain focus on this matter and continuous pressure on the Korean authorities to seek the release of the two officers. It is hoped that this is the last leg of an arduous journey, and that the two officers will be formally released and allowed to return home to their families.
MSC 86 is due to finish on Friday 5 June and there are several items on the agenda, including piracy and armed robbery against ships. A comprehensive summary of the issues discussed will follow, as usual.