Wakashio captain, chief mate sentenced over Mauritius shipwreck

Mauritius jails Wakashio Captain under piracy and violence law 


The captain and first officer of a dry bulk carrier, which triggered the biggest environmental disaster in Mauritius, have been sentenced to 20 months in prison in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, the captain, and Subodha Tilakaratna, the first officer of the MV Wakashio were sentenced in the Intermediate Court of Mauritius on Monday. Both pleaded guilty on Dec. 20 to the charge of endangering safe navigation. Since the two men have been in police custody for almost 16 months and the guilty plea means leniency in the sentencing, the length of imprisonment are deemed to have been completed.

“If we take into account the time spent on remand and remission for good conduct, the sentence may be seen as served,” Amira Peeroo, lawyer for Tilakaratna said in a phone interview from Port Louis, after the sentencing.

Mauritius battled widespread pollution following the oil spill, which threatened the livelihoods of communities that depend on the ocean, and the Blue Bay Marine reserve, popular with snorkelers. The Mauritian economy relies on tourists who flock to its white-sand beaches is also reeling from the coronavirus fallout.

The 300-meter long Japanese ship was en route to Brazil from China when it veered off course in the evening on July 25, 2020 and hit a coral reef. Two weeks later, fuel oil started leaking with about 1,000 tons reaching the shores. The vessel then broke into two and sunk.

Nandeshwar admitted to drinking and partying. He agreed that the vessel sailed close to the Mauritian shores so that they could get mobile phone signals, according to media reports.

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