Interpol has confirmed that the former Oyang 77 factory manager was killed in a car crash in China on September 11.
The Ministry of Primary Industries had asked Interpol to make inquiries while it tried to prosecute the South Korean manager, Soon Ill Hwang, and the 39-year-old captain of the trawler, Dae Jun Lee, on charges involving large-scale fish dumping at sea.
A Christchurch District Court judge ruled out the case proceeding against Hwang in November, but the case has been reinstated after further legal argument.
A pre-trial hearing before another judge, Judge Brian Callaghan, was held today.
He heard an application in chambers for the court to hear the evidence of three Indonesian crew members before a two or three-week trial.
The details of that hearing cannot be reported.
If the cases against Hwang or Lee can be proved, the vessel may be forfeited to the Crown.
The trawler, owned by the South Korean-based Sajo Corporation, was being chartered by Southern Storm Fishing (2007) Ltd at the time of the alleged offending.
Judge Callaghan accepted the confirmation from the ministry, through Interpol, that Hwang had died after the ministry had started proceedings against him.
He said it was unclear whether Hwang had personal knowledge of the proceedings because of the "deemed service provisions" under the Fisheries Act, which allows legal papers to be served on the New Zealand charterer.
He ruled that Hwang's personal representative - under South Korean law that is his father - had standing in the case.
His legal representatives, Nelson-based Ocean Law, will now consider whether to file a stay, which would stop proceedings.
The stay application, to be filed within 21 days, must include evidence of Hwang's knowledge of the proceedings at the time of his death.
- The Press
Have you adjusted to the new alcohol limits for drivers?Related story: New alcohol limits catch first drivers