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Judge orders Niobe Corinthian to the auction block

The

Niobe Corinthian gambling ship is to go to the auction block, following a Supreme Court order approving its sale.

Chief Justice Richard Ground yesterday ruled the vessel must be sold to pay three crew members owed more than $40,000 by the ship’s owners.

Captain Pablo Riera Sr, his son Pablo Jr and crewman Juan Aleman will receive back wages of $27,451, $6,416 and $6,416 respectively.

Stranded in Bermuda, the three were only able to return to their native Honduras after Capital G sponsored their tickets.

The bank is trustee to one of two trusts that in turn own Estrellas Management owners of the $4 million vessel.

Capital G chairman James Gibbons said he was unable to comment on the ruling.

The judgment closes the often troubled history of a ship originally launched as an offshore casino to circumvent Bermuda’s strict anti-gambling laws.

After being targeted in two police raids, the

Niobe Corinthian has spent the last three years at dock. No representative for the owners attended Supreme Court this afternoon, when the crew’s lawyer Craig Rothwell presented his final submission before Mr Justice Ground.

An affidavit showed that a writ had been served on the ship on June 21. It was deemed sufficient that the writ was served on the property, rather than personally on the ship’s owners who have yet to be publicly named.

The Chief Justice granted a judgment in default in favour of the three absent defendants, .

A representative from the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU), which has sponsored the case, shook Mr Rothwell’s hand at the judgment.

“The next step is for the court bailiffs to appoint someone who is qualified to put a value on the ship,” Mr Rothwell said.

Selling off the

Niobe Corinthian will leave a considerable cash surplus. The unpaid crew have a maritime lien on its physical value, to the value of $40,283 which could leave millions left over part of which is to be sought by HM Customs.

The owners, who are understood to be overseas residents, may yet hold residual claims to a portion of its value.

Lawyer Phil Perinchief, who said he had represented the management company “for a period of time”, said that he had not been engaged on the current litigation.

“My only comment, until I see the judgment, is that certainly anyone I have represented would agree that the seamen’s wages must be paid,” Mr Perinchief said.

“However, what is a bit problematic is that these are all foreign litigants. In what legal capacity has the union taken on this case?”

The union representative present for yesterday’s ruling declined to speak further on the matter.

For now, the Panama-registered vessel remained moored at St David’s.

The Niobe Corinthian

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Published August 05, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 05, 2011 at 9:22 am)

Judge orders Niobe Corinthian to the auction block

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