Death is pretty fundamental - judge

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:46 08/11/2012

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A judge has blocked the Primary Industries Ministry from continuing a prosecution against an overseas fisherman who has died.

If the ministry wants to take the case further it will have to appeal against Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill's decision in the High Court.

The dead man, Soon Ill Hwang, former factory manager on the trawler Oyang 77, had Mike Sullivan, a lawyer representing his estate, at today's court hearing.

Hwang, 42, has been killed in a car crash in China since charges were laid alleging fisheries breaches by him and the captain of the vessel, Dae Jun Lee, 39.

The case was called today to make arrangements to hear legal arguments before the hearing of evidence from Indonesian crew members in the case against the trawler officers. The arguments will be heard on November 30.

Judge MacAskill said he would issue a stay of proceedings preventing the case against Hwang going further because the man was dead.

"It reminds me of Monty Python and his dead parrot," he said when the ministry said it wanted the case to proceed. "I would have thought that the death of the accused is pretty fundamental."

Hwang had faced charges of dumping barracouta, hoki, ling and squid at sea. These species are subject to fisheries quota management.

Lee denies nine charges - failing to report the incidental catch of two basking sharks, failing to report the catching of squid, dumping squid, hoki, barracounta and ling at sea, and making false fisheries returns relating to hoki, hake and silver warehou.

Lee has indicated he will defend the charges.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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