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V Ship's Bob Bishop: Hebei Spirit judgement is miscarriage of justice

V Ship's Bob Bishop: Hebei Spirit judgement is miscarriage of justice

Hong Kong: Bob Bishop, ceo V.Ships Shipmanagement, the company responsible for technical management of the Hebei Spirit, has labeled the Korean Appeal Court's verdict of guilt for the Master and Chief Officer of the 'Hebei Spirit' as "one of the most disgraceful examples of a miscarriage of justice in a 'supposedly' advanced nation state".

Bishop has severely criticised the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST) for the investigative methods used to gather information, which he contends do not comply with IMO guidelines. "The reliance placed upon the KMST findings and conclusions, has resulted in technically flawed, unreliable and unjust evidence being submitted to the Daejeon District Court, the Court of Appeal," he says.
"In submitting their report, the KMST has demonstrated both its incompetence and an obvious desire to find fault with the officers of the Hebei Spirit. It is also a matter of fact that in compiling their report, the KMST has not complied with the IMO guidelines for consultation with other parties."
He has voiced his support for the seafarers involved and pointed out that this decision may affect Korea's viability for ports of call for shipping services.

"For Capt Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan to be sentenced to prison terms and lead from the court in handcuffs is a disgrace and insult to the whole shipping industry," he says.
"It is hardly surprising that the Indian seafarers' unions are up in arms.  No wonder the ITF and its international membership are questioning whether it is safe for its members to travel on ships to Korea.  No wonder carriers are considering future calls at Korean Ports.  Certainly ship owners will be reviewing their future shipbuilding orders in Korean yards."

Bishop concludes, "We can only hope that the Authorities in Korea will take immediate steps to restore the country's now tarnished image as a place where all who deal there can expect justice and respect of human rights."  [11/12/08]