A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at the Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Sumeet Mudhoo/L'Express Maurice

Wakashio Captain Seeks Bail in Mauritius’ Top Court

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March 4, 2021

By Vel Moonien in Mauritius (gCaptain) –

The captain of the ill-fated ore carrier Wakashio is turning to Mauritius’ Supreme Court for bail as he awaits trial over his role in the July 2020 shipwreck.

Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar has his previous bail request was denied in mid-January by the Port-Louis’ District Court. Now, the 58-year-old captain has turned to the Supreme Court in an attempt to win his case.

Captain Nandeshwar argues the fact that he has fully cooperated with local police since the ore carrier wrecked on the reefs of Pointe-d’Esny, in the South-East of Mauritius, on the night of July 25, 2020. He has already denied responsibility in this accident, insisting that the Chief Officer is to blame.   

The captain rejects arguments that he will try to flee the Indian Ocean Island, pointing out that he remained in a quarantine center for more than two weeks before he was arrested. Nandeshwar was first charged for breach of Sections 5 (1)(b), (2) and (9) of the Piracy and Maritime Violence Act of 2011 until the accusation was repealed and replaced by a violation of “innocent passage” laws. He recalled that his lawyers demanded his conditional release since October and regrets that magistrate Neela Ramdewar-Naugah sided with the police, who claimed that he could interfere with witnesses while the investigation was ongoing.    

The theory that he would flee was again put forward by police in December. The chief investigating officer pointed out that under the new charge for which he is being prosecuted, he faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of 30 million rupees, the equivalent US $751,786. Police insisted that him fleeing is more than likely, especially since he has no family on the island, nor any place to stay. However, the captain points out that he intends to remain in Mauritius to clear his name in order to be able to return to sea, that his employer will pay for the bond, and that the local seafarers’ support organization, the Mauritius Sailors Home Society, has agreed to accommodate him.  

“I stand advised that I am innocent until proven guilty and that the presumption of innocence should weigh heavily in my favor”, says the captain. His application will be heard on Tuesday, March 9 before Chief Justice Asraf Caunhye. At the same time, the insurer of the ore carrier, the Japan P&I Club continues to extend support the seafarers and other tourist operators who were affected by the oil spill.

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