The judge investigating the sinking of the Villa de Pitanxo on Monday requested urgent explanations from the Ministry of Transport for the failure to comply with the instructions referring to the ship hired to locate and examine the wreck of the fishing vessel sunk in February of last year.

The magistrate of the National Court Ismael Moreno made this decision after the families of the 21 sailors drowned in the waters of Newfoundland denounced that the ship that won the ministry’s tender, the ‘Ártabro’, had set sail without informing the court of its departure or what experts he had on board.

The judge requests information both from the General Subdirectorate of Administration and Financial Management of the ministry and from the Permanent Commission for the Investigation of Maritime Accidents and Incidents (Ciaim), also dependent on Transport. He wants them to report “urgently” to the court “of the reasons why what was ordered in the clear and precise instructions has not been duly complied with”

They are asked to inform him of the reasons why they have not met the conditions that he had indicated for the expert evidence that will be used to decide whether the boss of Villa de Pitanxo is finally brought to trial.

“What was ordered has not been completed […], despite having been reiterated and, apparently, the ship has set sail, with a single judicial expert, without the express authorization of this Court, totally and absolutely regardless of all the extremes and circumstances reviewed,” says Moreno in line with what the prosecutor in the case, Marcelo Azcárraga, stated in his previous report.

The case instructor wants to know if any of the designated experts are on board the Ártrabo and what measures are going to be taken to ensure that the two judicial experts are present when the agreed evidence is taken. He also claims to know the itinerary of the ship and the expected dates of the contracted works.

The families’ spokesperson, María José de Pazo, has affirmed that what happened is “sad”, that they consider the judge “a disobedience” and regrets the actions of the Ministry of Transport. “He has been nonsense and nonsense,” she said. Last Thursday, the families demonstrated in front of the Government sub-delegation in Pontevedra against the hasty departure of the ship and demanded that it return to port.

That same Thursday, the Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, affirmed the “independent” nature of Ciaim and disassociated himself from the central government’s decision that the ACSM Shipping ship should leave the port of Vigo on Wednesday. “That question will have to be transferred in any case to Ciaim”, she affirmed.

For her part, the Government sub-delegate, Maica Larriba, assured that the Court was informed of everything and that there are judicial experts in the Ártabro: one appointed by the National Court, one from Ciaim and, as an observer, another from the European Agency Rescue and Maritime Safety. She specified that the Court had appointed two experts, but that one of them was outside of Spain and could not leave.

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