Chinese Cosco Busan crew to remain in U.S.

Chinese crew members aboard the Cosco Busan container ship when it hit the Bay Bridge in November will continue to be held in the United States as witnesses, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The six men, none of whom have been charged with any crimes, are at the center of a legal battle about the crash, which caused an oil spill that killed wildlife and fouled beaches.

Wednesday’s court proceedings were to hear a “motion for release” brought by some of the crew members’ attorneys, who also asked “in the alternative, to compel scheduling” of depositions in the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged the crew members’ employer, ship operator Fleet Management Ltd., with misdemeanor and felony charges in the accident.

The crew was inadequately trained and they made errors that caused the Nov. 7 crash, the department has alleged.

The department is also suing the Hong Kong-based shipping company in the spill.

The crew members are being held in Northern California on material-witness warrants. They have surrendered their passports, paid bonds and live in a hotel. International arrest warrants could be issued if they leave the country.

Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero ruled Wednesday that the depositions of two low-ranking crew members must begin in October. He said depositions of four other senior seamen must begin by Nov. 17 — 376 days after the crash.

The depositions will be used as evidence during a trial of Fleet Management and Petaluma pilot Capt. John Cota, which is scheduled to begin after Nov. 17.

Attorneys for the United States and Fleet Management unsuccessfully asked for later deposition dates to give them more time to prepare and conduct research.

Attorneys for the crew members said their clients’ constitutional rights are being violated because they are being detained without charge.

Spero said the men are “certainly stuck” in the United States, but he said they aren’t “detained” since they aren’t incarcerated.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCosco BusanLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Newsom orders indoor uses in gyms, salons, malls, churches, more to close

California is largely closing again amid a spike in coronavirus cases across… Continue reading

UCSF study finds young adult smokers at high risk of severe coronavirus

Roughly one in three young adults nationwide are at risk of contracting… Continue reading

Haney secures needed support to ask voters to create street cleaning department

Public Advocate proposal also advances toward ballot as anti-corruption measure

Giants, A’s to play exhibition games before start of baseball season

The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s announced Monday that they have… Continue reading

Riders should expect big changes when Muni rail returns in August

Reconfigured routes will mean fewer, longer trains through tunnel

Most Read