HANGZHOU, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The second mate of a Maltese cargo ship, Allan Mendoza Tablate, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison Monday in eastern China's Zhejiang Province for an accident, which left 14 dead and five unaccounted for.
The verdict was handed down by the Ningbo maritime court, and is believed to be the first criminal case ever tried in a maritime court in China.
Trial of Tablate opened in early July。 The court heard that Tablate was at the helm of cargo ship Catalina in the early hours of May 7, 2016 en route from Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province to Indonesia。 In spite of low visibility and difficult conditions in the East China Sea, he was found to not have kept a proper lookout, maintained a safe speed or taken effective measures to avoid other ships in the fog。
The court believed that Tablate's negligence led to the collision with Chinese fishing boat Lurongyu 58398, resulting in 14 deaths, with five others missing.
Direct losses from the accident totaled 5 million yuan (about 750,000 U。S。 dollars)。
Tablate gave himself up to maritime police in Zhejiang on Sept。 22 last year。 The court decided to give him a lighter punishment given his voluntary confession and proactive compensation to the families of the victims。
In February China's supreme court allowed Ningbo maritime court to try maritime criminal cases. In the past, local maritime courts only heard civil cases.