S’ville Port Threatens Suit over Stuck Cruise Ship

Sihanoukville Autonomous Port yesterday threatened to take legal action against the owner of the Jupiter Cruise luxury liner, which has remained docked there more than a year after sparking a minor diplomatic row between Thailand and Cambodia.

Lou Kimchhoun, director-general of the port, said by telephone that the authority will sue Lam and Brother Company if it does not move the vessel away from the port to make way for other commercial vessels.

“We will file a complaint at the court,” Mr Kimchhoun said adding that Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek suggested taking legal action last month. Mr Kimchhoun wrote two separate letters in August and October informing Mr Iv Tek about the ship’s extended port stay and complaints from unpaid crew.

“The important thing is that we want the ships to move in and out for business,” Mr Kimchhoun said.

Soth Sophin, deputy director of Lam and Brother Company, said yesterday that although his firm does represent the owner of the cruise liner, the vessel does not belong to his company. He added that he has tried to contact the ship’s actual owner, whose name he claimed he did not know, but has had no success.

Mr Sophin said that he has also attempted to convince three Ukrainian crewmen aboard the liner to drop anchor away from the port, but they have refused to do so.

“They demand that they be paid before they move the anchor,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry in 2008 demanded an official explanation from Thai authorities after 242 Cambodian passengers aboard the vessel, including law makers, court officials and military personnel, were denied entry to Thailand on the ship’s maiden voyage.

The Thai Embassy in March denied the allegations and accused the cruise operator of failing to follow proper docking and immigration procedures, and citing the fact that the 242 Cambodian passengers on board the ship had been listed as crew members.


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