6 Feb 2012

Witnesses in court case involving New Zealand company ask to stay in US

4:33 pm on 6 February 2012

Three former crew members of the New Zealand fishing vessel, the San Nikunau, which is owned by Sanford Limited, are seeking federal immigration approval to remain in the United States.

Former crew members Rhyme Distor, Donate Eulatic and Silverio Distor are material witnesses in the U.S. government's case against Sanford, which is charged with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The alleged violations occurred when the San Nikunau was in American Samoa.

The three men were scheduled to have their depositions taken this week in Washington D.C. because they're planning to return to their native Philippines very soon.

But lawyer, Grace Esnardo, says the men want to remain in the U.S. because they are afraid of retaliation if they return to the San Nikunau.