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US Files Manslaughter Charges Against Russian Captain - 2001-08-16

U.S. authorities accuse the captain and two crew members of the Russian ship of gross negligence for causing what they say amounted to a hit and run incident that sank the American fishing vessel last week.

American prosecutors are requesting their extradition to face trial for the August 5 incident, which occurred off the coast of Massachusetts. A Canadian court Wednesday ordered the three Russians to remain in the country until an extradition hearing next month.

Sergeant Tony Green is a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "The terms of that recognizance is that they each post $16,000 cash bond, that they're to surrender their passports, that they remain in Newfoundland," he said.

Russia has lodged a protest with Canada, calling the crew's detention unjustified. And Carey Dearnley, spokeswoman for Primorsk, the Russian company that owns the ship, says the crewmembers have no recollection of any collision and are upset about not being allowed to return home. "They had been assured earlier that evening by representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that they were free to go," she said.

The only American fisherman to survive the incident said the Russian vessel rammed his ship in the middle of the night, sinking it in less than a minute. He was rescued by a passing boat. The body of another fisherman was found, but two others remain lost at sea and are presumed dead.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the Russian vessel was known to have been in the area at the time. A joint U.S. Canadian investigation is underway.