Captain Found Guilty in MARPOL Misstep

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May 21, 2012

The former captain of a Panama-flagged bulk carrier M/V Gaurav Prem that discharged hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean, has been convicted by a jury in Mobile, AL, on two counts of obstruction of justice, including obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the port of Mobile on Sept. 21, 2011.

During the trial, witnesses testified that Captain Prastana Taohim, 38, ordered the ship’s chief officer to throw hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean and not record the discharge in the ship’s garbage record book as required.  Taohim then knowingly made the garbage record book available during a Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the Port of Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 21, 2011. The plastic pipes had previously contained insecticide and were used to fumigate a grain shipment. The discharge of plastic into the sea is prohibited under the International Convention to Prevent Pollution from Ships, known as MARPOL.

Taohim was found guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Alabama for obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection of the ship The jury also found the defendant guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to covering up the pollution by creating a false and fictitious garbage log.

The M/V Gaurav Prem is a 73,901 dwt bulk carrier owned by Mercator Limited of Singapore.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 15, 2012.

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