Panama Opens Criminal Investigation Into Princess Cruises - Captain Perrin to Face Homicide & Failure to Rescue Inquiries
A reader of Cruise law News in Panama brought an article in the Panamanian newspaper Prensa, entitled "MP Abre Sumario a Capitán de Crucero" to my attention this morning.
As I predicted last week, Panama has decided to proceed with a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Master of the Princess Cruises cruise ship Star Princess, for failing to assist three young Panamanian men who were adrift 100 miles out to sea aboard the Panamanian fishing boat Fifty Cents.
Several passengers observed the fishing boat in distress and tried to convince the cruise ship to assist. Initial reports indicate that officers aboard claim that they were avoiding fishing nets and allegedly were thanked by the fishing boat. Princess Cruises later claimed that the captain of the cruise ship was never informed of the people in distress.
The article explains that the Public Ministry (MP) of Panama launched an investigation into the deaths of two Panamanian fishermen, who went adrift in their fishing boat on February 24, 2012.
The investigation was initiated by a Panamanian lawyer who filed a complaint on April 18, 2012. The aunt of one of the dead fishermen, Fernando Osorio, was quoted by a newspaper in Panama, My Diary, "I ask that you drop the full weight of the law" on the captain. She referred to her 16 year old nephew as a human being, not an animal to be left in the sea.
The General Secretariat of the MP referred the investigation to the Homicide Division of the Judicial Investigation Department.
Last week, I wrote about the duties owed to persons in distress at sea and the rights of the cruise ship flag state, Bermuda, and the government of Panama to pursue criminal charges: Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas.
My prediction? Bermuda will do a favor for its cruise line customer, Princess Cruises, and exonerate Captain Perrin. Panama will issue an arrest warrant for the captain and a writ of attachment to seize the next Princess cruise ship sailing through the Panama Canal . . .
Read our first article about this case: Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?
Photo credit: MY DIARY | Roca Gonzalez Edilsa