Philippine investigators examine damaged fishing boat

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 30, 2013 - Page 4

Philippine investigators probing the May 9 shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel yesterday inspected the fishing boat involved in the incident, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28.

Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Hsieh Chih-ming (謝志明) said the Philippine team inspected the boat at a harbor in Donggang (東港), Pingtung County, and looked at a 30cm black scrape mark at the head of boat, as well as two smaller marks near the stern.

The team collected samples from the scrape marks, which will be compared with any scrapes on the Philippine vessel involved in the incident, Hsieh said.

The boat’s three surviving crewmen also re-enacted the incident for the investigators.

Hsieh said Taiwanese forensic staff helped the Filipinos collect their samples.

“The more evidence collected, the better the chance of finding the truth,” he said.

He said the Filipinos also inspected bullet holes in the boat and conducted ballistic tests.

A statement from the prosecutors’ office said Taiwanese investigators had earlier collected samples of five scrape marks on the boat and had ruled out the marks as being caused by a collision with the Philippine vessel.

A scrape mark on the Philippine vessel is more than a meter higher than the scrape mark on the fishing boat, and considering the peaceful seas at the time of the incident, it was impossible that the marks were made then, the office said.

The eight-member team from Manila, led by Daniel Deganzo, head of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation’s foreign liaison office, arrived in Taipei on Monday.

The Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines when it was fired upon by Philippine Coast Guard personnel. Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed in the incident.

Daganzo did not comment on his team’s findings, but said they conducted a ballistic examination to determine the trajectory of the bullets that entered the fishing boat and a re-enactment of Hung’s position during the incident. They also took photographs of the inside the vessel, he said.

“We will submit this evidence to Manila and we will have our evaluation of all this evidence together with the evidence that we have in Manila,” he added.

Later in the day some members of the group traveled to National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan to check the boat’s voyage data recorder. The remainder of the team continued their inspection of the boat.

In related news, Cebu Pacific yesterday said it had canceled the planned launch of a new route to Taiwan because of the tensions over Hung’s death. The airline had been scheduled to begin flights between Cebu and Taipei in July, but has suspended the route indefinitely, an airline spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.

However, she said the existing route between Manila and Taipei would be kept.

Additional reporting by AFP and CNA