Charges against dead man dropped

Fisheries charges against a South Korean man killed in a road accident in China have been dropped by the Ministry of Primary Industries.

The charges were dropped at a hearing of evidence before Judge Brian Callaghan on Thursday, before the trial of the 39-year-old captain of the Oyang 77, Dae Jun Lee.

The fishing trawler's factory manager, Soon Ill Hwang, 42, also faced charges, but the ministry was told last year that he had been killed in a road accident.

The ministry asked Interpol to make inquiries to verify his death and received that confirmation.

It wanted to proceed with the prosecution on the basis that Hwang may have had personal knowledge of the prosecution before his death.

It may have been able to proceed, with his father - his personal representative under South Korean law - having standing in the case.

If fisheries breaches are found proved, the ship involved may be forfeited to the Crown. In this case, the trawler was owned by the South Korean-based Sajo Corporation and was being chartered by Southern Storm Fishing (2007) at the time.

During the taking of evidence, the ministry said it could not be shown that Hwang had personal knowledge of the prosecutions before his death and applied to withdraw the charges.

Judge Callaghan allowed the withdrawal of the charges alleging dumping of fish at sea.

The case is proceeding to a hearing against Lee on nine charges - failing to report the incidental catch of two basking sharks, failing to report the catching of squid, dumping squid, hoki, barracouta, and ling at sea, and making false fisheries returns relating to hoki, hake, and silver warehou. He denies all charges.

Evidence has been given and recorded from some of the ship's Indonesian crewmen who will leave New Zealand before the trial takes place.

The Press