Rena crew deported to Philippines

By APNZ staff, Bay or Plenty Times -
Leonil Relon (left), and Mauro Balomaga (right), of the container ship MV Rena as they were sentenced to seven months in jail for their part in the Rena grounding. Photo / NZ Herald
Leonil Relon (left), and Mauro Balomaga (right), of the container ship MV Rena as they were sentenced to seven months in jail for their part in the Rena grounding. Photo / NZ Herald

The captain and navigation officer of the Rena have left New Zealand for the Philippines this morning after being released from prison.

Captain Mauro Balomaga and navigation officer Leonil Relon were jailed on May 25 for seven months, and were released yesterday to Immigration New Zealand after serving half their sentence.

Balomaga's lawyer Paul Mabey QC told APNZ that both men were this morning being deported back to their homes in Manila, where both their families were based.

An Immigration New Zealand spokesman confirmed that the men had left New Zealand.

The container ship ran aground on 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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