Trade Winds


Lawyers delay trial on sinking

A long- awaited hearing on the 1994 sinking of the ore carrier Iron Antonis, which claimed 24 lives, has again been postponed by the Piraeus court.

The case was due to be heard on 12 October but defense lawyers called for a postponement because one of the accused was sick and a further two had not been subpoenaed correctly.

The case, now to be heard on 5 December, will see five men face charges of manslaughter through negligence: Triantafyllos Lysimachou, chairman of the Hellenic Register of Shipping (HRS), and Dionyssios Melissinos, HRS technical director, as well as the co-owners of the vessel, brothers Antonios, Ioannis and Marios Eliopoulos.

Melissinos is said to be seriously ill in hospital.

The 1968- built Iron Antonis sank with all hands in September 1994 while on a loaded voyage from Tubarao in Brazil to China.

HSR is accused of negligence after issuing provisional class certificates for the vessel in June 1994 even though it was aware the ship had been de- classed on 31 May by Bureau Veritas (BV).

Hearings concerning the sinking have been repeatedly postponed and lawyers representing families of the  victims have expressed concern about the case becoming time- barred.

Piraeus lawyer George Trantalides notes that the case will be time – barred eight years after the date of the sinking.

But he points out that by that time all the court hearings must have been completed, including the first instance court and any subsequent appeals.

HRS executives are also facing allegations concerning the safety of the 1972- built cement carrier Dystos, which capsized off the island of Evia in December 1996 claiming 20 lives.

Meanwhile, last week HRS paid for advertising space in local newspapers to point out that in Greece’s latest maritime disaster, the sinking of the Express Samina, which caused at least 80 deaths, the society had been responsible only for certifying the hull and machinery of the ship.

It defended itself saying it has one of the lowest accident records and that the only accidents resulting in accusations being leveled against HSR are those of the Iron Antonis and the Dystos.