The wife of the Galician sailor who has been detained for ten months in the port of Al Mukalla, in Yemen, has sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which she denounces the passivity of the Spanish diplomatic authorities and requests legal assistance and security for her transfer. “Mr. Minister, my husband Pablo [Costas Villar] he is not a criminal, and even if he were, the obligation to help and aid as a citizen would not change, ”he writes to the new head of the portfolio, José Manuel Albores.
Ten months into the Yemen war: the story of a Galician sailor anchored in chaos without consular help
The letter relates the situation of Costas Villar, captain of the ship Blanket, accused by Australia of illegal fishing and arrested in Yemen – a country in civil war since 2014 – last September. He was put on trial and sentenced to three months of arrest, which he has already served, along with the rest of the crew, 32 Indonesian, Peruvian, Senegalese and Namibian men. “Yemen is a country where legal security does not exist,” says his wife, who lives in the Bueu family home (Pontevedra), “proof of this is that he has been subjected to a judicial procedure without having the minimum procedural guarantees.”
The document offers some details of the trial that, it assures, “clearly violate the right to a fair process and effective judicial protection.” For example, that the lawyer who in theory represents the sailor also represents the shipping company and the shipping agency, with interests opposed to those of the crew. And not even communication is possible, as there is no common language or translator. “The decisions handed down by the judicial court were never communicated to Pablo by the person who claims to represent him judicially,” the letter adds.
Costas Villar learned that there was an appeal from the Al Mukalla Prosecutor’s Office – territory under the control of the Southern Transitional Council – which paralyzed his repatriation – requested from Spain almost two months ago – through a communication from the Peruvian consulate to a sailor from that nationality. “The consulates of Spain in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Muscat (Oman) are fully aware of the situation that Pablo Costas Villar is suffering and of his request for repatriation, the result being totally unsuccessful so far,” he says.
The company that owns the ship “has abandoned” the captain and the rest of the crew. Originally this was Panamanian, but in the middle of the tide it was sold to a Somali shipowner. For ten months neither Costas Villar nor the other sailors have received any salary and are “exposed to an unsustainable situation at the mineral level, of habitability, health and safety.” “The diplomatic authorities have known everything for a month and a half but they have not done anything,” he says.
The woman from Costas speaks of “tremendous months of unease, despair and anxiety”, in which she has received the help of the Galician union Central Unitaria de Traballadoras (CUT) above all. “Our assessment may sound like desperation on my part or on the part of our family, but it is the real diagnosis, rather than a subjective assessment,” he considers, “Pablo is a professional with 35 years of experience at sea, that is his crime. ”. “I and our son Miro eat from his work, although the misfortune of his last tide made us have to survive at the expense of other members of the family,” he concludes.
The rats come aboard the ship
Costas Villar himself, in communication with elDiario.es via WhatsApp voice files, explains that the situation in the Blanket gets worse. Docked in a corner of the port of Al Mukalla since, last week, a storm broke the anchor chain, rats have begun to climb on board. The captain estimates that the ship’s supplies will run out in a week and drinking water in a day. Thereafter, they must go down from the ship to a drinking fountain. Meanwhile, in the midst of the lamb festival and with the city paralyzed by the holidays, the crew await news of the diplomacies of their respective countries.