Prosecution Of Ship Captain For False COVID Declaration

141

  • The captain is facing two years in jail if convicted of committing fraud by allegedly deceiving health officials.
  • The vessel was granted a health clearance but the prosecution contends that two crewmembers were already displaying severe symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The defence argues that the captain had no intention to defraud the authorities.
  • The case was originally scheduled to be heard in November.

Authorities in Hong Kong are pursuing charges against a ship captain, alleging that he gave false information about his crew’s COVID-19 status while requesting authorization to enter the harbour as reported by Maritime Executive.

Fraud 

The captain is facing two years in jail if convicted of committing fraud by allegedly deceiving health officials.

The magistrate hearing the case on Tuesday in Hong Kong ruled that the prosecution had provided sufficient evidence of the fraud.

In the second phase of the hearing, scheduled for March 15, both sides will submit their closing arguments after which the magistrate will announce the court’s verdict.

The captain, Ekarat Timwatthana, age 53 and a citizen of Thailand was in command of a 56,000 dwt bulker named Thor Monadic owned by Thorsen Shipping of Singapore.

The vessel arrived in Hong Kong on August 24, 2021, during an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Health clearance

The vessel was granted a health clearance but the prosecution contends that two crewmembers were already displaying severe symptoms of COVID-19.

In the midst of a surge in cases, Hong Kong identified a cluster of cases linked to the Thor Monadic.

Fifteen of the 23 crew members, including the captain, tested positive for COVID-19.

They said the efforts cost $140,778, although admitted that the Singapore shipping company paid most of the expenses.

Prosecutors argued that the captain was in contact with the ship’s agent in Hong Kong before arriving inquiring about the cost of COVID-19 testing.

After the cases were identified, health authorities moved the 15 crewmembers who tested positive to a hospital while the eight remaining crewmembers were quarantined on the vessel.

Free pass

The defence argues that the captain had no intention to defraud the authorities. They admitted that he applied for a “free pass” while saying that the language of the regulations was unclear regarding “pandemic-free passes.”

The captain was taken off the ship and arrested by the Hong Kong authorities in September 2021. He was released on bail but ordered to remain in the city to await trial. The case was originally scheduled to be heard in November. The charges of fraud normally are punishable by up to 14 years but because the case is being heard by the magistrate, the maximum penalty is capped at two years.

Did you subscribe to our newsletter?

It’s free! Click here to subscribe!

Source: Maritime Executive

 

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.