Six crew members held sans charges

Six members of the Cosco Busan crew have been detained by the U.S. government for more than four months without being charged with a crime.

The Chinese crew, which includes the captain and chief engineer, refused to cooperate with the various incident investigations immediately after the container ship spilled fuel into the Bay, investigators said at the time.

Arex Avanni, chief of Incident Management at the San Francisco sector of the U.S. Coast Guard, told a Feb. 26 Port Commission meeting that the crew was being held “locally.”

On Monday, Avanni told The Examiner that the crew members haven’t been charged with a crime, but he referred further questions to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Coast Guard Senior Investigating Officer Ross Wheatley said a translator helped him interview the men after the accident, but he said the men are not currently in the custody of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Wheatley also referred further questions to the Justice Department.

A court order has kept the Chinese men in the United States, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said Monday, adding that the order helped prompt prosecutors to file charges against the ship’s pilot on Monday.

Justice Department spokesman Andrew Ames on Monday declined to say where the crew is being held or answer any other questions about the men. “No comment,” he wrote in an e-mail in response to questions about the men.

jupton@examiner.com

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