The world’s largest shipmanagement company has upped the ante in the fight to clear the names of the officers at the heart of the Hebei Spirit case by questioning whether the head of the Korean Register had the authority to make the recent “injurious” comments he made in the press about the officers at the heart of the Hebei Two criminalisation case.
Kong-Gyun Oh, who is also Chairman of IACS, found himself in hot water this week over comments he made in the maritime press alleging that the Hebei Spirit Master and First Officer were imprisoned because they had lied to investigators. He has since published a letter of apology in Lloyd’s List stating that there had been some misunderstanding and that he was only trying to convey misconceptions held in Korea.
V.Ships said the accusations were so injurious to the cause of the two Hebei officers that a clear and forthright response was required.
Slamming the KR chiefs’ comments as manifestly untrue, V.Ships said it was “concerned that Mr Oh as well, does not appear to be fully appraised of all of the facts of this case. This is perhaps understandable as to our knowledge, the Korean Register did not participate in the criminal court proceedings or those of the KMST; and we question therefore, whether Mr Oh is in any position to comment authoritatively about this case. If he or his organisation are now receiving information about the case from other sources, then it would appear that they are being fed wrong information.”
V.Ships added: “It certainly appears that Mr Oh has not read the judgment of the Korean Appeal Court because if he had done, he would know that the Hebei Two were not detained for the reasons he says. Indeed, if they had been so detained his comments would amount to a very sad indictment of the Korean legal system.
”We also find Mr. Oh’s reported comments particularly distressing as they are the very same misguided ones which are being advanced so vigorously and maliciously by the lawyers for Samsung in their desperate efforts to deflect attention away from the failings of their own clients and to find fault with the Hebei Two. We trust that the obvious conclusions to be drawn from this sorry episode are not the correct ones.”
It added: “We sincerely hope that the Korean Supreme Court will right the incredible injustices that have been done to the Hebei Two, and in so doing, to restore our and the international shipping industry’s confidence in the Korean legal system. If the Hebei Two are not acquitted of all charges however, we anticipate the international reputation of Korea will be sadly tarnished.”