Crew Still 'Jailed' Year After SF Bay Spill

Chinese witnesses fight to return to families
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Nov 4, 2008 2:44 PM CST
Capt. John Cota is shown outside the Federal Building in San Francisco. Cota was piloting the Cosco Busan when it struck the Bay Bridge.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)
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(Newser) – Six crew members from the ship crash that caused San Francisco Bay’s largest oil spill in 20 years remain detained a year later, unable to return to families in China. Though they live rent-free in San Francisco, get $1,200 monthly plus their salaries, and are free to roam, the crew members cannot visit China because the US fears they will flee, the AP reports.

The members’ “evasiveness and participation in obstruction of justice” was a factor in detaining them, a prosecutor says. Their testimonies are crucial in criminal cases against the ship’s pilot and operator, who are accused of lying and altering documents, as well as environmental crimes. More than 50,000 gallons of fuel leaked in the crash, killing and injuring thousands of birds.