German Sailors Arrested in India Over Alleged Fatal Hit-and-Run

MV Grietje via MarineTraffic.com
MV Grietje via MarineTraffic.com

The Captain and Second Officer of a German-owned cargo ship have been arrested in India and charged in connection to a fatal ship collision with an Indian fishing vessel off the coast of Chennai.

According to reports, the MV Grietj allegedly collided with an Indian fishing vessel on March 16 about 10 nautical miles off Chennai in an apparent hit and run, resulting in the death of one fisherman.

Indian authorities traced the collision to the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged MV Grietj, a heavy lift cargo ship owned by SAL Heavy Lift of Germany, and on Tuesday arrested the ship’s captain, Albrecht Wolsgang, and second officer, Steffen Hinksoth, who are both from Germany. The men were booked on charges of causing death due to negligence and released on bail but are forbidden from leaving the country.

A report by the Times of India alleges that an inspection of the MV Grietj showed no physical evidence of a collision but enough circumstantial evidence, including AIS data and a non-functioning VDR, gave authorities enough evidence to detain and charge the sailors.

The incident comes as India is in the process of trying two Italians marines accused of killing an innocent fisherman in international waters.  The two marines were part of a security detail on board the MV Enrica Lexie and had mistaken the fisherman for pirates. The incident has sparked a heated diplomatic row between the two countries.