SPARE A THOUGHT

In March 2011, a Bulgarian ship’s master, Captain Svetlozar Sobadzhiev was arrested in Cristobal, Panama when 168 kg of drugs were found in the bow thruster compartment of his ship, the Maas Trader. He has since been held without charge in reportedly appalling conditions in a Panamanian prison with no provision for bail. Under Panama’s regime of strict liability, the onus is on suspect to prove innocence rather than for the state to prove guilt, a similar position to that unfortunately taken by Canada under this country’s much criticized oil pollution liability legislation. Despite a lack of financial support, the Council Of American Master Mariners has been trying to assist Captain Sobadzhiev but he continues to languish, as we said “without charge” as a victim of a highly questionable legal system.