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February 6, 2003

P&I Club to provide bail for Prestige master
The London P&I Club has agreed to provide the Euro 3 million bail required to obtain the release of Captain Apostolos Mangouras, master of the Prestige, from the high-security Spanish jail in which he has been incarcerated for more than two months.

Provision of bail for officers and crew imprisoned following a casualty is not a routine function of a P&I club. But the London Club Committee believes that the case of the Prestige involves "very special circumstances indeed."  Paul Hinton, Chief Executive of A Bilbrough & Co Ltd, managers of the London Club, says, "That is why the Club has found a means to assist on this occasion.

"The decision has been made following careful review of very many complex considerations. Our committee, which is comprised of shipowners, has been shocked at the treatment of a man who, by all accounts, put himself at grave personal risk to do his duty in very difficult circumstances," said Hinton.

"The level of bail is offensive, in the context of the captain's situation," he continued. "The court's decision is difficult to understand, given that it has been handed down in the European Union, where human rights are said to be a cornerstone of society. An illustration of the offensiveness of the decision in Spain can be gained from a comparison with the recent case of a wealthy celebrity in California who, being accused of murder, had his bail set at less than a third of the bail required from Capt Mangouras. "

Hinton expressed the hope that attention will not be deflected from the need to identify, objectively, the systemic failures that have occurred on this occasion. The refusal of a place of refuge is something that must be avoided in the future.

The Prestige suffered structural damage in heavy weather off Cape Finisterre last November, and subsequently broke up and sank while under tow, having been refused entry to a place of refuge in sheltered waters close to the Spanish coast. It was insured for third-party liability risks with the London Club.

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