Reversing an earlier court decision acquitting the captain Apostolos Mangouras, it sentenced him to two years in prison. (Representational Image)
Madrid, Spain: Spain’s Supreme Court said today it had found the captain, the British insurer and the owner of the Prestige tanker that sank in 2002 liable for a devastating oil spill, one of Europe’s worst environmental disasters.
Reversing an earlier court decision acquitting the captain Apostolos Mangouras, it sentenced him to two years in prison and also found insurance company The London P&I Club liable for the disaster, as well as ship owner Mare Shipping Inc.
The Prestige tanker broke in two after sailing for six days damaged and adrift, spilling 63,000 tonnes of oil into the sea and coating 2,980 kilometres (1,852 miles) of shoreline in Spain, France and Portugal with black sludge.
The spill caused huge damage to wildlife and the environment, as well as to the region’s fishing industry.
A Spanish court in 2013 acquitted Mangouras and the ship’s chief engineer, both of them Greek, as well as a senior Spanish official, of environmental crimes over the wreck, arguing they did not act intentionally or with serious negligence.
But the Supreme Court revoked the acquittal for Mangouras, accusing him of “gross negligence.”
The London P&I Club, meanwhile, could be liable for up to $1 billion (920 million euros), though no sum has yet been decided.