Artania operators must be investigated for ‘criminal negligence’: former WorkSafe WA chief
Operators of the Artania cruise ship in Fremantle must be investigated by police for criminal negligence, according to former WorkSafe WA chief Neil Bartholomaeus.
Mr Bartholomaeus said West Australians deserved the same attention to justice as that being brought towards the Ruby Princess in New South Wales.
He said it was public knowledge cruise ships could be "incubators" for coronavirus when the Diamond Princess was quarantined on February 4 in Japan with 252 coronavirus cases on board, including 24 Australians.
“After February 4, cruise ships should have sought the first opportunity to safely disembark passengers and then [return to] home port,” he said.
“The deadly consequences of ignoring the precedent of the Diamond Princess should have been foreseeable by the operators of the Artania.”
Mr Bartholomaeus said Artania operators Phoenix Reisen had ample warning of the global health emergency unfolding more than a month before the ship took on hundreds of new passengers in Sydney on March 13.
He said the vessel should never have continued on to Fremantle – a port not on the ship’s original itinerary – and should have steered directly back to Germany once the extent of risk to those on board was known.
“The death and injury outcome because of the Artania cruising after February 4 was foreseeable by a reasonable person, and the operators of the Artania must be investigated by WA Police for possible charges of criminal negligence causing death, and criminal negligence causing grievous bodily harm,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.
Pointing to a precedent, he said Worksafe WA had successfully prosecuted an employee in charge of a fishing vessel that sailed into cyclone Bobby in 1995 without attention to weather warnings, adversely affecting the safety of the crew.
“Similarly, cruise ship operators have sailed into viral storms infecting crew and passengers, and must be investigated for their actions and the consequences,” he said.
Mr Bartholomaeus said police should also investigate any existing potential to seize and confiscate the Artania in the context of property used to commit a crime.
With the Artania registered in the Bahamas, he said the investigation of any criminality for which the operators may be responsible should be done immediately before the ship left local waters.
On Monday morning Artania captain Morten Hansen said even though he was "running the ship" and had been aware there were sick passengers on board before entering WA waters, what the company did was "above" him.
"I’m just the captain on board," he said.
“I just have to take care of my ship – that’s all I know.”
So far it is estimated 10 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia are directly traceable to cruise ships.
More to come.
Source: Read Full Article