No decision has been made on the future employment of two men jailed over the grounding of the container ship Rena, the ship's owners say - despite keeping their jobs open.
Mauro Balomaga, captain of the Rena, and navigation officer Leonil Relon served half of their seven-month jail sentence on a range of charges, including perverting the course of justice. They were sentenced in May but released from prison on Wednesday.
The company has confirmed their jobs have been kept open but would not be drawn on the pair's future within the company after their return to Manila yesterday.
Spokesman Hugo Shanahan said the company understood concern in the community about the possibility the men might get their old jobs back. "No decision has been made [on the men's future with the company] and any decision would be subject to further discussions," he said. "The immediate priority is to get these safely back to their families."
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times this week he would be concerned if the two were put back in charge of a ship. "They were found guilty of falsifying documentation and they showed incompetent seamanship. The jail thing is neither here nor there in comparison."
In May the men pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court to charges under the Resource Management Act, such as being the master of a ship from which harmful substances or contaminants were discharged into the coastal marine area, wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice, and altering ship documents.