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NZ vessel released after $1million bond posted

sports@samoanews.com

New Zealand based Sanford Limited was arraigned Monday afternoon at the federal court in Washington D.C. over alleged pollution violations committed in the waters of American Samoa by its vessel San Nikaunau.

Through its attorneys, the company pled not guilty to a seven count federal indictment handed down early this month for the alleged violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

During the arraignment hearing, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell, the company waived official reading of the indictment and the court has set a status conference hearing for Jan. 27, 2012.

Sanford has denied the allegations and has vowed to fight the charges.

The arraignment comes four days after the company posted a $1 million bond with the federal government for the release of the fishing vessel, which left the territory last Friday. The vessel had been detained in the territory by the U.S. Coast Guard since July this year for suspected pollution violation.

Sanford’s managing director Eric Barratt said late last week that the company has posted the bond as security for any adjudicated potential fines or penalties for the offenses for which Sanford has been indicted, and for Sanford to make available certain crew as witnesses at hearings with respect to the indictments.

“We will continue the process of vigorously defending all the charges and expect the issue to come before the court for trial as early as possible in early 2012,” he said in a company statement.

It’s unclear at this point if the release of the vessel would resolve the company’s lawsuit filed with the High Court over ASG’s detainment of the vessel. Oral arguments were heard earlier last week on Sanford’s motion seeking injunctive relief to bar the government from stopping the vessel from departing the territory.

The court has since taken the matter under advisement and there has been no date given for a decision in this matter.



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