Début du combat : 22/04/2011

Combat porté par : Surfrider Foundation Europe

On the 22nd of April 2010, a French customs surveillance airplane discovered a layer of maritime pollution caused by a discharge of hydrocarbons, 22km in length and 50m wide, in the wake of the vessel SDS Rain sailing under Italian flag. At the point of discovery, the vessel was located at 18km off the Marseille coast in French territorial waters.

Surfrider acted as the civil plaintiff and was involved in the court case thanks to the intervention of its barrister.  The SDS Rain was accused of an illegal oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea, and the lawsuit was held on the 11th of January 2012 in Marseille. The SFE Bouches-du-Rhone Chapter took advantage of this occasion and organised a citizen mobilisation outside the courthouse to sample public opinion. The following month, the verdict was pronounced and the owner and the captain of the vessel were sentenced to the payment of 750,000 Euros and 250,000 Euros respectively (225,000 of which were to be settled by the owner). Both the owner and the captain appealed against the verdict.

On the 30th of April 2013, against all likelihood and in conflict even with the opinion of the expert, the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal reversed the judgement of the Marseille Criminal Court and acquitted the company SDS Navigation SRL and the ship's captain. This is a startling and deplorable step backwards in the clampdown on illegal oil spills in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the association is not giving up and will bring the case before the Court of Cassation.

Le Gardien

Surfrider Foundation Europe


On Thursday, 22nd of April 2010, the SDS Rain, sailing under Italian flag, is caught red handed causing an oil pollution in French territorial waters, at 18km off the Marseille coast. The ship has left Fos-Sur-Mer and is bound for Turkey.

On the 14th of February 2011, the trial is adjourned until the 11th of January 2012. During the lawsuit, Surfrider Foundation Europe is present both before the courthouse with a citizen mobilisation organised on the initiative of the Bouches-du-Rhône Chapter, and inside, where our environmental lawyer, Cristina Barreau, represents the association during the trial. The Deputy Prosecutor Serge Bocoviz demands the conviction of the Italian owner to a fine of €750,000.

On the 15th of February 2012, the verdict is rendered and the owner and the captain of the vessel are sentenced to fines of €750,000 and €250,000 respectively (€225,000 of which is to be settled by the owner). Surfrider Foundation Europe and the other environmental associations involved as civil plaintiffs receive compensation for non-material damages and celebrate this decision rendered by the criminal court of Marseille, which, once more, applies the polluter-pays principle. Both the owner and the captain appeal against the verdict.

On the 30th of April 2013, the appellate court acquits the owner and the captain, a decision which completely contradicts the first judgement.

In May 2013, SFE decides not to leave it there and brings the case before the Court of Cassation.

Chronologie des faits

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