Rena Master Charged With Altering Records

Maritime New Zealand has filed additional charges against the master and second officer of Rena , the Costamare-owned containership that grounded on Astrolabe reef off Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island on October 5.

The two men are charged with a wilful “attempt to pervert the course of justice” by altering the ship’s documents after the grounding. The charge has been filed under S117(e) and 66 of New Zealand’s Crimes Act.

The master faces four charges under the act, while the second officer faces three. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Previous charges against the two, whose names have been withheld by the courts, related to the nation’s Resource Management Act of 1991, holding the officers responsible for the discharge of harmful substances from the ship.

Fuel from Rena washed up on beaches near Tauranga for weeks after the ship ran aground.

The officers have also been charged under the Maritime Transport Act of 1994 for reckless operation of the vessel.

Each charge carries substantial fines and jail time.

The two men appeared in court on Wednesday and were remanded on bail. They will not enter a plea until February 29, 2012.

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