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Montevideo, March 31st 2023 - 03:45 UTC



Peruvian prosecutors to seek extradition of oil spill case tanker captain

Thursday, May 19th 2022 - 09:04 UTC
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Pisani returned to Italy while there was still no ban on him leaving, the shipping company argued Pisani returned to Italy while there was still no ban on him leaving, the shipping company argued

Peruvian authorities are seeking the extradition of the captain of the Italian-flagged Mare Doricum oil tanker, whom Repsol accuses of being responsible for the maneuvers that resulted in the oil spill at the La Pampilla refinery, 4 kilometers from the Ventanilla district.

Captain Giacomo Pisani left the country before a restraining order was issued against him, for which the Public Prosecutor's Office has requested the initiation of extradition proceedings, it was reported Wednesday in Lima. Pisani was discovered to have left his ship and Peru less than 24 hours after prosecutors requested that he be banned from leaving the country.

The Italian company Fratelli d'Amico Armatori, owner of the Mare Doricum, which was unloading oil in Ventanilla for the company Repsol when the spill occurred on January 15 this year, confirmed that the captain of the vessel, Giacomo Pisani, had left Peru on March 9.

The company said in a statement that Pisani decided to return to his country because he had “no restrictions or prohibitions” to travel and because he had also finished his contract with the company.

In this scenario, the Prosecutor's Office announced on Twitter steps had been taken to seek the seaman's extradition.

Prosecutor Ariel Tapia, who is specialized in Environmental Matters in the Northwest Lima judiciary district, included Giacomo Pisani as a person under investigation for the alleged commission of an environmental crime, in the modality of intentional environmental contamination. In addition to Pisani, workers at Repsol's La Pampilla refinery are on the prosecutor's list.

At the beginning of March, the Transitory Preparatory Investigation Court of the Puente Piedra-Ventanilla Court was weighing Tapia's request to prevent Giacomo Pisani from leaving the country. When the court requested information on Pisani's whereabouts from the National Superintendence of Migration, on April 18 the entity reported that the Italian sailor had left the country on March 9.

”Let's not look away, because in this story the captain of the ship has a secondary position. If we talk about him as a defendant, we are assuming that the responsibility lies with the ship. At this moment the main gaze is on Repsol and on the expertise of the PLEM (underwater oil distribution system), which Osinergmin (Supervisory Agency of Investment in Energy and Mining) has not yet concluded,“ said Julio Guzmán, legal adviser of Peru's Environment Ministry.

Fratelli d'Amico Armatori has also reported Captain Pisani was being treated in Italy for a health condition that was not disclosed.

”During the investigation or trial stage, Repsol's lawyer or the judge will no longer be able to ask Pisani questions. Only the version of one of the parties will be available, and only the version given by the captain to the Prosecutor's Office will be used. In case additional information or precision is required, that will no longer be possible,” argued Percy Grández, legal advisor of the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA).

”The captain of the ship has relevance in determining what happened that day (of the spill). This only reinforces the lack of leadership and institutional weakening that the State has demonstrated from the beginning in the response to remediate the disaster. And also now to define responsibilities,” said Oceana's director, Daniel Olivares.

However, one question will remain unanswered: How could it be that Captain Pisani left Peru on March 9, one day after Tapia filed for a court order banning him from leaving the country?

From the beginning of the case, Pisani denounced Repsol's attitude as the Spanish company sought to have him take full responsibility for the spill.

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