Captain fined N$950k, Samherji vessel released

06 February 2020 | Justice

The captain of an Icelandic vessel linked to the Fishrot bribery scandal has been fined N$950 000 or 12 years in prison by the Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court.

Angrimur Brynjolfsson (67), the captain of the Heinaste, was sentenced yesterday by Magistrate Rhivermo Williams after being convicted during an earlier appearance of fishing in restricted waters along the Namibian coast.

The State's application to forfeit the vessel was dismissed.

Williams said Brynjolfsson's offence not only affects Namibian sea life, but the people at large.

“The management, protection, harvesting and utilisation of marine resources are imperative to our country. It was submitted in aggravation by the chief fisheries biologist Bean Mbeurora Tjizoo that the impact of fishing gear, particularly trawling on fish species such as sardines, pilchards or juvenile horse mackerel and hake, which are of commercial value to Namibia, is detrimental. By trawling, there is no fish left uncaught, hence the strict penalty.”

Williams added she also had to consider the public interest in the case.

“Many employees in the fishing sector are losing their jobs, and they would want to see justice being done and the accused punished accordingly.” She fined him N$300 000 or four years imprisonment for each of the three charges, as well as an additional N$50 000.

Brynjolfsson was represented by advocate Shakespeare Masiza and prosecutor Maggy Shiyagaya represented the State. Williams dismissed the State's application for the forfeiture of the vessel and its fishing gear due to insufficient evidence.

“The State relied on the employment contract signed between Brynjolfsson and Saga Seafood Namibia and the director who represented Heinaste to show a link between Saga Seafood and Heinaste. The contract of employment does not talk about the illegal use of the vessel. No evidence was presented that the two companies have the same shareholding or board of directors. It cannot be inferred that the owners of the vessel knew that the accused would steer the vessel into a prohibited area and could prevent that. The owner of the vessel cannot be prejudiced by the actions of the accused.”

She ordered that the vessel and all relevant documents be handed back to the owners, effective immediately.

The Heinaste, which is linked to the controversial Icelandic company Samherji, was impounded during December 2019.

Leandrea Louw

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