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Murder on the high seas: Alleged killer locked in hold for 47 days



After 47 days at sea, a fishing boat docked in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, resulting in the arrest of a man suspected of stabbing a crew member to death on the Taiwanese-flagged vessel. The murder, which occurred in the Indian Ocean, has shed light on the jurisdictional complexities brandished by Mauritius, the country where the ship made a stop during its journey.

The Crime at Sea

On April 28, approximately 675 nautical miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa, a fatal altercation took place aboard the Taiwanese fishing vessel Fengguo No. 616.

During the dispute, a 43-year-old Vietnamese crew member allegedly stabbed an Indonesian crew member, resulting in his death.

Following the incident, the Vietnamese suspect took refuge in a storage room, and the captain, also Vietnamese, locked the hatch as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the crew and to prevent potential retaliation from the Indonesian crew members. The vessel consisted of 18 Vietnamese nationals and 7 Indonesians.

Investigation Challenges in Mauritius

Upon reaching Mauritius, the fishing boat was permitted to resupply, but Mauritian authorities declined to investigate the murder case due to jurisdictional limitations, Taipei Times reported.

Since the incident occurred on the high seas on a Taiwanese-flagged vessel, Mauritian authorities said the investigation fell outside their legal purview.

However, a liaison officer from Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau stationed in South Africa boarded the ship during its Mauritius stop to gather crucial evidence.

Detainment and Return to Taiwan Despite being confined to the hold and refusing to surrender the murder weapon, the Vietnamese suspect remained aboard the Fengguo No. 616. Departing Mauritius on May 16, the vessel was escorted back to Taiwan by two Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels. Finally, on June 14, the ship arrived at the coast guard wharf in the Port of Kaohsiung.

Arrest and Forensic Examination

Upon docking, officers from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, equipped with shields and batons, stormed the Fengguo No. 616 to apprehend the suspect.

Publicly released video footage captured the dramatic arrest as the officers forcefully removed the suspect from the hold.

Concurrently, the victim’s body was retrieved from the ship’s freezer. A subsequent forensic examination revealed that the victim had sustained seven stab wounds, concentrated on the face and head, with a fatal blow to the heart, Taiwan English News reported.

Legal Proceedings

Following intensive interrogation by the District Prosecutor, the Vietnamese suspect confessed to committing the crime. The court granted the prosecutor’s request for a detention order, ensuring that the suspect remains in custody throughout the ongoing investigation.

Sources: Taipei Times, Taiwan English News

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