Prestige Oil Spill Trial Continues, Captain Testifies

Published Nov 19, 2012 1:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ten years ago today, the PRESTIGE oil tanker triggered one of Europe’s worst oil spills. Also today, the ship’s 77-year-old Greek captain, Apostolos Mangouras, testified during the environmental disaster’s legal trial in Spain.

The skipper is consistent in claiming that his vessel passed the required checks. According to The Australian, he is the first of four accused to testify in the trial over the catastrophe in which tens of thousands of tons of oil blackened the coasts of Spain, Portugal and France.

The captain’s charges include criminal damage of the environment and a protected nature reserve. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of about 12 years of jail time. They are also asking for more than 4 billion euros in damages.

Mangouras stated in court that his checks were conducted every three to six months, and that the PRESTIGE’s crew visually inspected the tanker’s hull and ballast tanks before leaving Saint Petersburg. He added that he and his Philippine crew were all properly qualified for their duties.

Others charged in this case include the ship’s chief engineer and first mate, and the head of the Spanish merchant navy at the time, who ordered the ship out to sea when it was losing fuel. The trial is scheduled to last until May and hear testimony from 133 witnesses and 100 experts.

The Prestige oil spill was an oil spill off the coast of Galicia caused by the sinking of an oil tanker in 2002. The spill polluted thousands of kilometers of coastline and more than one thousand beaches on the Spanish, French and Portuguese coast, as well as causing great harm to the local fishing industry. The spill is the largest environmental disaster of both Spain's history and Portugal's history.


Related: Trial Begins for Spain's Prestige Oil Spill Disaster