The Spanish government has been awarded a total of $1.9 billion in damages for the 2002 oil spill from the tanker Prestige, which broke up and sank after she was refused entry to a harbour of refuge. The London Steam-Ship Owners' Mutual Insurance Association is obligated to pay $1 billion of this amount, and shipowner Mare Shipping and the IOPC Funds are responsible for the balance, according to the Telegraph.
Last year, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted the Prestige's master, 81-year-old Capt. Apostolos Mangouras, of gross negligence during the vessel’s final voyage. He was sentenced to two years in prison, sparking outrage in the maritime community – especially as Mangouras had requested permission to enter a harbour of refuge and had been turned away. “This sets a deplorable precedent,” says Intertanko’s Managing Director Katharina Stanzel, reacting to Mangouras' conviction. “Are ships’ masters who exercise best professional judgement in impossible circumstances to be shamefully treated as criminals?”