Rena officers released from jail

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Leonil Relon (L), Navigation Officer, and Mauro Balomaga, Captain of the container ship MV Rena during an earlier appearance in the Tauranga District Court today. Photo / Alan Gibson.
Leonil Relon (L), Navigation Officer, and Mauro Balomaga, Captain of the container ship MV Rena during an earlier appearance in the Tauranga District Court today. Photo / Alan Gibson.

The captain and navigation officer of the Rena have been released from jail after serving half their sentence.

Captain Mauro Balomaga and navigation officer Leonil Relon were jailed on May 25 for seven months.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed the men had been released from prison and were handed "straight over'' to Immigration New Zealand.

It is understood the pair will be deported back to the Philippines.

The container ship ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the Bay of Plenty coast as it headed for Tauranga early on October 5, spewing oil and debris across the area.

Balomaga and Relon both pleaded guilty in May to a charge under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act in relation to operating a ship in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk to persons or property.

The captain also admitted a charge under the Resource Management Act and pleaded guilty to four charges under the Crimes Act of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Relon pleaded guilty to three similar charges, which relate to altering ship documents after the grounding, and a charge under the Resource Management Act relating to the discharge of harmful substances and/or contaminants.

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