Prestige Oil Spill Trial Begins

Posted October 16th, 2012 at 8:00 am (UTC-5)
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Nearly 10 years after the worst oil spill in Spain's history, trial is underway for four men held responsible for the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige off the northwest Spanish coast.

Prosecutors are asking a 12-year prison sentence for ship captain Apostolos Mangouras, who is charged with harming the environment. Also charged are the ship's chief engineer, the first mate, who is still at large, and the former head of the Spanish merchant navy.

The Prestige was damaged in a violent Atlantic storm in November 2002. It drifted for six days before breaking up and sinking, causing a massive oil spill. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from Spain and elsewhere in Europe came together to clean up the shoreline.

Spanish government officials have been criticized for ordering the Prestige farther out to sea after oil began leaking, rather than bringing the ship back to port.

The defendants are not expected to testify until November 13, the 10-year anniversary of the accident. A verdict is expected sometime next year.