Anyone around to defend seaman?

I received a letter, with all documents attached, from Russian seaman Vasily Ogarkov, who, being a Chief Officer on board of chemical tanker SICHEM PANDORA, was blamed for the sinking of French fishing boat KLEIN FAMILIE and taking the lives of 5 French fishermen, in January 2006. He was an officer on watch when allegedly, SICHEM PANDORA collided with fishing boat. He was found guilty by French authorities and Court, but Court of Magistrates of Malta found him not guilty, and dropped all charges. In its’ verdict, Malta Court noted, that there wasn’t even concrete evidence to claim, that the collision between SICHEM PANDORA and KLEIN FAMILIE took place, at all.

To demonstrate biased investigation and ruling of French Court, Ogarkov’s advocate sent paint samples, taken from nearest door painted in the same color, as tanker’s hull, to a laboratory which made analysis for French Court, and asked laboratory to check these samples, whether they originated from tanker, or not. Laboratory came up with conclusion, that definitely, the paint samples were taken from tanker!
He was fully acquitted by Malta Court in May 2016, but it took him ten years and everything he had, including sold car and real property, to cover all the expenses. ITF and SUR (Seamen’s Union of Russia, ITF affiliate) were inside when there were some dividends to grab, in form of publicity, chance to once more promote themselves as seafarers rights defenders. When it came to a question of some real assistance, after dust settled down, they turned away – no help at all, in any form. Seaman was all alone in his trouble.

Mr. Ogarkov wants to know, if there’s any chance of getting any compensation for all his ordeals, both financial and moral. Shipowner paid to relatives of died fishermen millions in compensation, though as it came out, it was something he didn’t have to do, as his ship wasn’t guilty. He was under tremendous press from France, of course, but why forget about one of your own, nevertheless?
Where are all those hordes of organizations, societies and funds, which proclaim themselves as the only and true defenders of seamen’s rights?
They’re so brave when it comes down to a shipowner allegedly violating crew rights, especially when this shipowner is a small one. They’re so happy, so enthusiastic in hunting him down, short of bashing him to death. And yet, they’re so shy when defending seaman requests standing up against big guys, like say, France State (or Spain, in notorious PRESTIGE case). Why? Either they’re cowards fearing for their status and financing, or they’re liars and hypocrites. I believe them to be both.

Mr. Ogarkov doesn’t have many illusions left, and he doesn’t believe he’d find help among seamen rights watch and charity organizations. Maybe some lawyer will find his story worth trying to sue France legal system and getting a proper compensation. Most probably, there won’t be such lawyer, either. Well, at least Mr. Ogarkov, with the help of Maritime Bulletin, will have a consolation in making his story known, and disillusioning all those who are still foolish enough to trust ITF and the likes.

Anyone capable or willing to assist or at least, advise, contact me vmd@odin.tc and if you mean business, I’ll link you directly to Mr. Ogarkov. I repeat I have copies of all the relevant papers and documents.

Voytenko Mikhail
December 25, 2017

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My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.