Source Pravda.Ru

U.S. authorities unfoundedly blame Russian seamen for tragedy that occurred a year ago

A tragedy occurred at the U.S. shores exactly a year ago, for which the U.S. authorities unfoundedly blame the Russian crew of the Virgo tanker.

In this way the tragedy in the Atlantic appeared to be for three Russian seamen a gross violation of human rights, the Maritime Shipping Company reported.

In the opinion of the company's leadership, the U.S. authorities accuse without proof Captain Vladimir Ivanov, navigating officer Dmitry Bogdanov, and steersman Mikhail Gerasimenko of violating the marine regulations, as a result of which the U.S. side maintains that the Virgo collided with the U.S. small trawler Starbound at night on August 5, 2001.

A year ago an unidentified cargo ship ran into the Starbound at full speed 130 miles off Cape Ann, Massachusetts. The trawler sank within a few minutes. Three of the four crewmembers died. The captain, who was the owner of fishing trawler, miraculously survived.

The cargo ship disappeared from the scene of the accident. Starting the search, the U.S. authorities asked Canadians for help. Together with other foreign vessels the Virgo, which at that tragic night sailed along the U.S. coast to Canada, was included in the list of suspects.

The U.S. coast guards thoroughly examined the tanker in Canada. The Virgo captain and the watch keepers gave exhaustive answers. No traces of collision were found on the tanker and no claims were made to the crew and the ship owner by the U.S. coast guards.

Nonetheless, the Virgo was detained by the Canadian coast guards on August 9. Ivanov, Bogdanov and Gerasimenko were to take a written undertaking not to leave Canada.

The U.S. side refuses to provide any proof of the guilt of the Russians, ignoring inquiries sent by Russia's General Prosecutor's Office, the Transport Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Maritime Shipping Company in which the three seamen are employed, created decent living conditions for them, rents flats, pays wages and provides extra money for meals. The company also covers travelling expenses for the wives visiting their detained husbands.

The situation, in which the Russian seamen have found themselves, according the Convention on the Law of the Sea, may be examined by a court of only two countries - either the one to which a suspected ship belongs or the one in which the crewmembers are citizens. The ship sails under the flag of Cyprus, and all the crewmen are Russian citizens.

In the opinion of independent lawyers, a legal way out is possible only if the Russian side starts its own investigation and the three seamen from the Nakhodka Port return to Russia.

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