Second Zim Asia officer to face charges

Yugoslav national will be charged with breaking maritime law, negligence.

Zim Asia ship 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Zim Asia ship 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The police's National Fraud Squad wrapped up its investigation Tuesday into a September collision between the Israeli Zim Asia cargo ship and a Japanese fishing boat in which seven Japanese fishermen were killed. Police recommended indicting the ship's second officer - Pilastro Zdrako - a Serbian national with negligent homicide and the violation of Port Authority regulations. In the case of the ship's captain, Moshe Ben David, police said they found deficiencies in his performance but refrained from issuing a recommendation on whether he should be indicted. Police passed his file to the prosecution, which will make a final decision after reviewing the evidence. Police said the prosecution would have to decide if Ben David could be held responsible according to the Israeli Penal Code for the accident that occurred while his second officer was in command of the ship. "According to the findings," police said, "the collision was caused during a non-routine maneuver that the Zim ship made, while following an order made by the second officer who commanded the ship at the time of the collision." During the investigation, police cleared the Zim Shipping Company of responsibility for the collision. Police added that the Japanese fishing boat did not take proper security measures to prevent the accident. The collision occurred on September 28 at 2:30 AM when the Zim Asia ship weighing some 40,000 tons hit the Shinsei Maru 3, a Japanese shipping boat, in international waters near the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Only one fisherman survived the collision. According to the police, the Zim ship identified the Japanese boat following the collision but sped away without searching for any of survivors. As a result, seven of the eight fishermen drowned. Zim initially denied that one of its vessels was involved in the crash but later accepted responsibility and sent officials to Japan to apologize to the government and the families of the victims. Following the accident and under intense pressure from Japan, the head of the Ports Authority in Israel established an inquiry commission to investigate the collision. After concluding its investigation, the findings were passed to the State Attorney's office which decided to launch a criminal investigation headed by Let.-Cmdr. Miri Golan - head of the National Fraud Squad. On Tuesday the Tel Aviv District Court decided to release Zdrako to house arrest but extended an order preventing him from leaving the country until the end of January.