MEPs fault Spaniards on Prestige

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU Parliament yesterday criticized Spain for its controversial handling of the 2002 Prestige oil tanker disaster, following a special inquiry. The Greek-managed Prestige broke in two off the Spanish coast in November 2002, spilling 63,000 tons of fuel oil in the country’s worst environmental disaster. «In its conclusions, the committee deplores the decision taken by the Spanish authorities to tow the vessel away from the Galician coast,» the European Parliament said in a statement after a special panel of inquiry completed its work. The committee’s findings echo criticism by ecologists and opposition parties of the government of outgoing Premier Jose Maria Aznar. They say ordering the vessel out to sea made the problem worse, as rough waters simply tore the ship apart. [The ship’s Greek captain, Apostolos Mangouras, was arrested immediately after the shipwreck and only released on bail of 3 million euros. He has been banned from leaving Spain. Greece has accused Spain of treating Mangouras as a scapegoat for its own mistakes.]

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