Baalu appeals for exit permits for two Indian nationals

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New Delhi, Oct 15 (UNI) Union Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Thiru T R Baalu has appealed to South Korea to permit Indian nationals, Captain Jasprit Singh Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan, to leave Korea following a district court declaring them innocent in a case involving an oil spill in the ocean.

Mr Baalu, in a meeting at Seoul with his South Korean counterpart, Jong Hwan Chung, the Minister for Land Transport and Maritime Affairs, emphasised that the charges against the two officers were civil in nature. He said requisite guarantees had already been provided by the P &I Club and the owner of the oil tanker Heibei Spirit which was involved in the oil spill.

He appealed to the Korean minister to urgently look into the issue regarding grant of exit permits to the two as their 10-month long detention had already caused lot of agony to their families.

Assuring Mr Baalu that he would take up the matter with the ministries concerned in the South Korean government for an early solution, Mr Jong said so far they had been concentrating only on the oil spill issue and had not looked into the humanitarian angle.

India's ambassador in South Korea presented an 'aide memoire' to the Korean side on the occasion which sought the help of the Korean government for granting of exit permits to the Indian officers.

On December 7, 2007, crane barge Samsung No.1 collided into the oil tanker Heibei Spirit, off Daesan, South Korea causing a major oil spill in the sea. While the oil tanker is registered in Hong Kong, its captain Jasprit Singh Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan are Indian nationals. The crane barge which collided into the tanker, is owned by a South Korean company. On June 23 last, the Seosan branch of Daejon district court found the two Indians innocent and found the members of crew of the crane barge and tugboat guilty.

UNI SD SB RK1925

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