Captain of ship stranded on Bulgaria’s coast given suspended sentence of three years

The captain of the cargo vessel Vera Su, that was stranded near Kamen Bryag on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast in September 2021, has been handed a sentence of three years in prison, suspended for five years.

The Dobrich District Court upheld on February 14 a plea bargain between prosecutors and the captain, Haidar Ergun, who pleaded guilty to charges to significant damage to property and endangering the lives of others.

The 59-year-old captain was ordered to pay court costs of 7203 leva.

Prosecutors said that an investigation had established that on September 20 last year, the Panamanian-flagged, Turkish-crewed Vera Su had run aground after the captain had allowed the ship to sail without a functional system for bridge watch, and at night, there was only a duty commander, without a lookout.

It was possible that this had been deliberate, according to prosecutors.

The captain has agreed not to appeal against the court ruling.

Photo: Bulgaria’s Ministry of Transport

An indictment of the first mate of the Vera Su is pending.

A separate pre-trial procedure is ongoing in respect of two others areas, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

These areas were whether the sea water had been polluted and the environment damaged, and whether the actions by the relevant state bodies had been appropriat and timely.

The Vera Su was towed to Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Varna more than a month after it ran aground. Bulgaria is seeking compensation from the vessel’s Turkish owner.

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