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Princess of the Stars inquiry may result in criminal prosecution for Sulpicio Lines

Princess of the Stars inquiry may result in criminal prosecution for Sulpicio Lines

Manila: Philippine prosecutors may file criminal charges and civil charges against the officers of Sulpicio Lines for negligence resulting in multiple homicide and serious physical injury for the   800 deaths resulting when its 'Princess of the Stars' ferry sank during a typhoon on June 21.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez is reported by AFP as saying a special panel of prosecutors was examining an official investigation by the Board of Marine Inquiry that concluded that the ship's captain was at fault for the ferry capsizing. "We are closely studying the Board of Marine Inquiry report and we recommend the filing of criminal charges if the situation warrants," he said.

Sulpicio Lines has been given 30 days to appeal the findings and recommendations of the inquiry, which has concluded that that human error caused the sinking of the passenger ferry. The inquiry has pointed the finger of blame in the direction of missing (and presumed dead) ferry captain Florencio Marimon Sr, said to have miscalculated the risks of the voyage to Cebu at the height of typhoon Frank.

In its findings, the BMI has also held Sulpicio Lines liable for failing to stop its captain from sailing despite bad weather conditions and has recommended the suspension of Sulpicio Lines' franchise

Sulpicio vessels account for about 30% of the country's merchant marine fleet and stopping them from sailing could trigger a shipping shortage, AFP has reported Gonzalez as saying.  [28/08/08]