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Spain and France appeal after oil spill verdict

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Spain and France appeal after oil spill verdict
Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP
10:56 CET+01:00
Regional prosecutors in France and Spain on Friday launched separate appeals after a Spanish court acquitted a ship's crew and a top maritime official of causing one of Europe's worst oil spills.

The Liberian oil tanker Prestige broke in two after sailing for six days damaged and adrift in 2002, spilling 63,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea and coating 2,980 kilometres (1,852 miles) of shoreline in Spain, France and Portugal with black sludge.

A statement by French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said the spill had cost France €109.7 million ($148 million) and more than half this sum was spent on the clean-up operation.

The ministers added they wanted acknowledgement that environmental damage was "caused by the actions of the captain and crew."

Prosecutors in the northwestern city of La Coruna, Galicia, who had hoped for sentences ranging from five to 12 years in prison for those accused, announced their own appeal against last week's ruling by the Galician high court.

They said in a statement that the judgement "does not address the effects of the ecological disaster".

The Spanish government had already launched an appeal for damages at the country's Supreme Court, the highest legal authority in Spain.

The spill caused huge damage to wildlife and the environment, as well as the region's fishing industry.

The court ruling had put the cost of the disaster at more than €368 million to the Spanish state, €145 million to the region of Galicia and €68 million to neighbouring France.

The only person convicted was the ship's 78-year-old Greek captain, who was sentenced to nine months in jail for resisting attempts to tow the wreck away from shore before it spilled its load, killing tens of thousands of seabirds.

The court awarded no compensation for the wreck, which Paris and Madrid had hoped would yield four billion euros in damages.

The company that ran the ship was not prosecuted.

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