Russian tanker captain acquitted in US court over MARPOL violations

Image: Demin
Image: Demin – Ridgebury Alexandra Z

After spending more than 19 months detained in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Captain Vjaceslavs Birzakovs, Master of the oil tanker Ridgebury Alexandra Z, has been acquitted of all charges and is able to return to Russia following his complete acquittal by a jury on May 23.

The acquittal was handed down following a four-day jury trial before US District Court Judge Jay C. Zainey in the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division.

The captain was accused of six criminal counts of federal pollution and obstruction of justice, related to a US Coast Guard investigation of Ridgebury Alexandra Z for alleged MARPOL violations after the vessel illegally dumped oil cargo residues and oily bilge water into the ocean.

Mr Birzakovs as well as 10 members of the crew and officers of the vessel had been detained in the South Louisiana area for 19 months in connection with the case. The captain maintained his innocence at all times and requested a speedy trial.

Following just two hours of deliberations, a jury found Mr Birzakovs not guilty on all six charges.

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