The Differences between the Parties concerning Certain Activities within the Malachi Gap (Amalea v. Ritania)

Seungmin P. Jung


Issue #04: Whether Amalea had jurisdiction to try and convict Luz for criminal actions related to the Rosehill incident, and has an obligation to immediately return him to Ritania.

(Relevant Facts from the Compromis released by ILSA are listed and cited below)

  • (Para 1) Amalea… an island state, and the Republic of Ritania, a peninsular state, are separated by the Strait of Malachi, a channel connecting the Dorian Sea (to the North) and the Occitan Ocean (to the South)
  • (Para 2) The Strait of Malachi ranges from 217 nautical miles (at its narrowest) to 386 nautical miles (at its widest).
    • At its deepest point, in an area known as the Amalean Trench, the Strait reaches a depth of over 5,000 meters.
    • Within approximately 100 nautical miles of the coast of Ritania, the Strait also contains several oceanic ridges and plateaus, where the water depth is at places as little as 20 meters.
    • A major international sea land traverses some of the deeper areas of the Strait of Malachi.
  • 13 February 2011 (Record Page 15 Paragraph 41)
    • 1500 HRS local time, an Amalean-registered cruise ship (Rosehill) carrying 556 passengers (70% of whom were Amaleans) + 215 crew members of various nationalities departed from Amalea and headed towards Ritania
    • Rosehill‘s first port of call on its regular 20 day voyage around the region : Helios
    • In response to customers’ requests, the Rosehill‘s owners had obtained permission for the vessel to navigate close to the Island
      • (construction of Excelsior Island’s hydroelectric plant was complete and final steps were being taken to develop the wind farm)
      • Excelsior Island (Para 20)
        • the creation of a large, donut-shaped artificial island made of oceanic sand and rock dredged from the Malachi Gap area on the Sirius Plateau.
          • Sirius Plateau is an area of the continental crust in the Malachi Gap approximately 40 nautical miles from the Ritanian coast and approximately 180 nautical miles from the coast of Amalea.
        • the reclaimed land area itself would be located just outside the Malachi Gap, entirely within Ritania’s uncontested EEZ
        • Excelsior Island Gas & Power Limited (EIGP) planned to use Excelsior Island as a facility for the production of seven million metric tons per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Erebus field.
        • LNG facility would be powered by an 800-megawatt combined wind farm and hydroelectric plant, to be build just off the coast of Excelsior Island, wholly within Ritania’s uncontested EEZ.
    • As the Rosehill aproached Excelsior Island, (Para 42)
      • a stolen Ritanian-flagged yacht (the Daedalus) under the control of Oscar de Luz, a Ritanian citizen, carrying a crew of 10 and with an undetermined number of others on board, was speeding towards the Island.
    • The Captain of Rosehill saw that his ship was on a collision course with the fast approaching Daedalus and tried to maneuver the Rosehill away.
    • The Captain was forced to veer toward the Island and to accelerate in order to avoid what seemed an imminent collision.
      • Despite what later investigations described as the heroic efforts of the Captain and crew of Rosehill, the ship struck the Island with significant force.
      • The Rosehill‘s Captain immediately radioed the Amalean authorities about the incident.
    • (Para 43) The impact caused ruptures to three oxy-fuel storage tanks on the Island, in turn leading to a series of explosions that killed five of the Ritanian nationals working on Excelsior Island.
      • The explosions also tore large holes in the hull of the Rosehill and caused fires that spread through parts of the ship, which began to sink.
      • Before nightfall, 127 passengers and crew of the Rosehill had died from the explosions, burns, smoke inhalation, or drowning, and 150 others were injured.
      • 89 of the dead were Amalean nationals.
    • (Para 44) Luz steered the Daedalus away from the Island to the northwest.
      • Within minutes of Rosehill‘s distress call, the Amalean Coastal Protection Services (ACPS) issued an alert describing the Rosehill collision as apparently caused by a yacht that had hurriedly left the scene.
      • The alert noted that the yacht had been speeding away bearing west northwest, creating a danger for other vessels.
    • (Para 45) As the Daedalus drew within about 23 nautical miles of Amalea’s coastline, it was picked up on radar by the Icarus, an Amalean Navy Fast Response Cutter, under the command of Captain Walter Haddock.
      • Captain Haddock, who had followed the ACPS alerts, set out at full speed to intercept the Daedalus.
      • When the Icarus was within visual range, Captain Haddock issued an order over several different radio frequencies commonly used by vessels in the Strait of Malachi, ordering the Daedalus to stop.
    • (Para 46) Instead, Luz turned the Daedalus and sped due east, towards Ritania.
      • Haddock pursued the Daedalus, crossing into Ritania’s uncontested EEZ north of the Erebus Gas Field.
      • In an attempt to get the Icarus to veer away, Luz suddenly steered the Daedalus straight towards the Icarus.
      • Captain Haddock kept his vessel on course, expecting that the Daedalus would turn at the last moment, but it did not.
      • The ships collided at high speed.
      • The Icarus suffered some minor damage, but the Daedalus began to sink rapidly.
      • Luz leapt overboard into a dinghy.
      • Captain Haddock’s crew captured Luz in the dinghy, where they declared him under arrest, then brought him on board the Icarus.
      • The crew and passengers of the Daedalus were also taken on board, but it was quickly determined that they had committed no criminal acts, and they were released when the Icarus reached port.
    • (Para 47) Since 1995, Amalea’s Penal Code has specifically included offenses committed in Amalea’s uncontested EEZ and the Malachi Gap.
      • Amalea’s Attorney General concluded that under that Code her country’s courts had jurisdiction to try Luz for violations of Amalean criminal laws, and he was charged with 127 counts of murder, as well as reckless endangerment, negligent operation of a seagoing vessel, and various property crimes.
    • (Para 48) Ritania immediately filed a formal protest with the Amalean Embassy, claiming that the arrest and prosecution of Luz, a Ritanian citizen, were illegal under international law.
      • Ritania argued that it had exclusive jurisdiction over the alleged offenses, and demanded that Luz immediately be returned to Ritania for investigation into whether there was a basis to prosecute him for the Rosehill accident.
      • Ritania also noted that it expected the full cooperation of Amalea, as a signatory to UNCLOS, in resolving the situation regarding Oscar de Luz.
    • (Para 49) Amalea declined to repatriate Luz, noting that Ritanian criminal law did not expressly provide for prosecution of offenses committed outside the country’s territorial waters, and therefore Luz might never be required to answer for his crimes.
      • Instead, Amalea put him on trial.
      • Luz was ultimately convicted of nearly all of the charges against him, and his convictions were affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals in June 2012, and by Amalea’s Supreme Court in January 2013.
      • Luz is currently serving a life sentence in a medium-security prison in Amalea, and will not be eligible for parole until 2032.

[ Return to Topics ]

img_1852Joining in 2010, Seungmin is a Founding Member of and Senior Partner at Yonsei ULS. Please be advised: the comment, writing, or column does not represent  the official position of YULS.