‘Villa de Pitanxo’ survivor accuses captain of sinking fishing boat

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The survivor of the ‘Villa de Pitanxo’ accuses the captain of sinking the fishing boat. picture: twitter

Skipper of the Galician fishing boat ‘Villa de Pitanxo’ accused by one of the survivors of being responsible for its sinking

According to judicial sources quoted by The Voice of Galicia, Samuel Kwesi Koufie, one of three survivors of the wrecked Galician fishing vessel ‘Villa de Pitanxo’ – which sank on February 15 450km east of Newfoundland in Canada – said its captain ignored the warnings given to him by the sailors.

Koufie reportedly told the Guardia Civil, before the Maritime Accidents and Incidents Inquiry Commission (Ciaim), that the men had told the skipper “to let go of the net, which could have corrected the list, and, at term, prevent the shipwreck”.

A problem would have occurred during the maneuver to pick up the rig, due to bad weather conditions, strong gusts of wind, accompanied by large waves, caused the boat to list on the port side.

That’s when the crew told the skipper to let go of the net to stabilize, but he listened. As a result, water began to fill the compartments, the engine stopped and the fishing boat eventually sank.

According to Samuel’s version, the captain would not give the order to abandon ship, nor to put on the life jackets. Hee and his nephew were the only two crew members to wear it, as the others didn’t have time.

A raft from which the three survivors and four bodies were rescued also apparently had a hole, according to what Samuel told the media. He told how they floated for five hours, until they were found by Playa Menduiña Dos.

However, a different version is told by the captain, Juan Padin, and his nephew, Eduardo Rial. They maintain that the skipper was on deck when the event took place, explaining that during the maneuver to collect the nets, the vessel’s engine stopped and water began to enter the vessel.

It is because of this difference in the statements that the National Court opened an investigation “into the possible criminal responsibilities in the sinking”. The sinking resulted in the deaths of 21 of the 24 sailors, nine of whom were rescued dead, and the others are still missing. If convicted, the boss faces a “reckless crime of murder for each of the 21 sailors who died, or against workers’ rights”.

In a statement to the press, Samuel said he did not want to “confirm or deny” the said information, indicating that “in order for his testimony to end up in court”, he did not speak with the relatives of the victims, in despite being the first who wants to do it.

“I do not want this great drama to revolve around me, out of respect for my companions, and for it to be the authorities who define the responsibilities”, underlined the sailor of Ghanaian origin. For this reason, he asked for the “understanding” of people waiting to hear his version.

Relatives of the 21 deceased thanked Samuel for his “courage”, and the fact that he did not succumb “to a lie”. Adding: “Now there is a legal process ahead. People like him help make this world a fairer place. His courage, despite all the pressure, is exemplary,” they said in a message sent to the media, reported by 20 minutes.es.

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