SUSPICIONS that the subsidiary company of Samherji, Icelandic fishing company at the centre of the fisheries scandal, might order the Heinaste super trawler to leave Namibian waters led to the seizure of the vessel under Article 28 of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA).
Commissioner Nelius Becker, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Namibian Police, confirmed the seizure of the vessel and said that sufficient grounds existed for the action to be taken.
“The vessel was seized as part of the investigation into the Fisheries corruption scandal because it was feared that the company in control of it might order it to leave Namibian waters,” Commissioner Becker said.
The Heinaste was impounded by the Namibian Police about two months ago when the Icelandic captain was arrested for fishing in sensitive breeding areas of the coast of Namibia. The captain of the vessel was sentenced to pay fines totalling N$950 000 earlier this week. The presiding magistrate ordered that the vessel must be released.
However, the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia applied for an order from the Prosecutor General to seize the ship, which is still docked in the port of Walvis Bay, late on Friday afternoon.
Fears that the Heinsate might leave Namibia once released by the Namibian Police heightened after the Saga and the Geysir left Namibia under a cloud of controversy and leaving more than 200 seagoing employees high and dry.
The seizure of the Heinaste under the POCA follows despite the interim Chief Executive Officer of Samherji, Björgólfur Johannsson’s undertaking on Thursday to deploy the vessel in Namibian waters while being chartered to Namibian fishing companies to bring in their existing quotas.