Three sailors from a Panamanian-registered freighter were indicted by Hualien prosecutors yesterday after their ship allegedly hit and sank a Taiwanese fishing boat off Hualien on April 17.
Second Officer and Bangladesh citizen Mohammad Karim of the 160,000-tonne Panamanian freighter Tosa was charged with manslaughter through professional negligence, hit-and-run and manslaughter through abandonment. Hualien prosecutors suggested a 10-year sentence.
Indian Captain Glen Patrick Aroza was indicted for manslaughter through professional negligence, while Filipino crewmember Caballero Mallorca Eduardo Jr was indicted on a charge of hit-and-run. Prosecutors did not suggest any sentences.
“The second officer was the main person responsible for the incident because he was on duty and was the man to give the orders,” said Hsueh Chih-yu (薛智友), the prosecutor in charge of the investigation. “He did not send any SOS message and did not stop [the vessel] to rescue the Taiwanese fishermen whose boat was hit and sunk by the Tosa. That is why we have asked for a 10-year sentence.”
Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office Chief Prosecutor Huang Yi-chun (黃怡君) said the three Panamanian sailors would be punished according to Taiwan’s Criminal Code because the incident occurred in Taiwan’s territorial waters.
The owner of the Tosa has already deposited US$4.75 million with the prosecutors’ office as potential compensation for the victims and their families, Huang said.
“The prosecutors’ office will help the victims with their compensation claims and ask for more compensation if the money is not enough,” she said.
The three sailors are barred from leaving Taiwan and future hearings and the trial would take place at Hualien District Court, she added.
The accident took place near the Diaoyutai island chain at about 12:43am on April 17, when the Tosa allegedly hit Hsin Tung-chuan 86, a Taiwanese fishing boat with 13 crew members aboard.
Hsin Tung-chuan 86 captain Ho Hsi-chuan (何西川) and chief engineer Hsu Chung-wen (許聰文) were missing after the boat sank approximately 41km off the Diaoyutai islands and have been presumed dead. The rest of the fishermen were later rescued.