Lima, Jan 28 (EFE).- A Peruvian judge on Friday barred four Repsol executives from leaving the Andean nation for 18 months, a move that comes amid an investigation over a Jan. 15 oil spill at a refinery owned by the Spanish energy company.
The ruling by Judge Romualdo Aguedo affects Repsol Peru chief Jaime-Fernandez Cuesta; the head of the La Pampilla refinery’s Maritime Terminal 2, Renzo Tejada Mackenzie; and Repsol Peru’s environmental quality and production managers, Cecilia Posadas Jhong and Jose Reyes Ruiz, respectively.
The judge in Puente Piedra-Ventanilla, the jurisdiction where the disaster occurred, granted a request by Peru’s Attorney General’s Office.
Lawyers for the four executives, meanwhile, said their clients have cooperated with investigators and had no intention of leaving the country.
The investigation is still in the preliminary stage but could lead to indictments for environmental pollution, a crime punishable by no fewer than four years in prison.
In handing down his ruling, the judge said the travel ban is “strictly proportional … to society’s interest in finding out the truth.”
Prosecutors sought the ban as part of their probe into an incident in which some 6,000 barrels of crude were spilled into the ocean off the coast of the port city of Callao, at a spot around 30 kilometers (around 18 miles) north of Lima.
The spill occurred on Jan. 15 when freak waves from a tsunami-triggering volcanic eruption near the faraway island nation of Tonga rocked the Mare Doricum tanker as it was unloading nearly 1 million barrels of crude at the La Pampilla refinery.
It has affected more than 20 beaches, three natural reserves and 713 hectares (2.75 square miles) of ocean and wreaked economic havoc on fishing communities.
The spill has been called the worst ecological disaster in the Lima region in recent history. EFE