Shipowner Andreas T. Petrakis has been sentenced by a Greek court to seven years jail over sinking of the capsize bulker Iolcos Victory, which went down off South Africa seven years ago. The lives of the Greek master and three seamen aboard were lost in the casualty.

The 61 – year- old principal of Iolcos Hellenic Maritime Enterprises, operator of the vessel, Petrakis is to appeal the sentence handed down by a three – member Athens Magistrate Court, which acquitted two engineers of responsibility. Petrakis had been charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and causing injuries. Five of the 21 seafarers who survived the September 13, 1996 sinking were injured.

The court heard that the 16 – years – old Class NK Hitachi – built ship was in poor condition when she went down in 6 mtr swells and heavy rain while on passage from Brazil to the Far East with a cargo of 140.000 tonnes of iron ore. A short time before the casualty, an inspection in Fos, south France, had found the vessel had a crack which was said to have been repaired using cement.

Piraeus lawyer George Trantalides, who represented the wife and son of the dead master, Petros Filippakos, 58, welcomed the court’s rejection of defense efforts to place blame for the loss on the  weather and on Captain Filippakos, Trantalidis said the verdict “was the best possible memorial service for the seafarers”.