Nine Indonesian fishing boat crew members suspected of murdering their Taiwanese captain and chief engineer faced an angry attack from the relatives when they were brought back to Taiwan yesterday to stand trial.
Family members of the men, who are missing and presumed dead, punched the suspects and stabbed at them with umbrellas when they stepped off a Coast Guard Administration frigate that had taken them to the northeastern fishing port of Suao (蘇澳), in Yilan County.
One of the attackers fell into the water in the melee, but was rescued, televised footage showed.
The assault was so violent that the coast guard escorts had to retreat temporarily to the ship with the nine Indonesian crewmen.
The Coast Guard Administration said in a statement that the Indonesians are suspected of murdering Chen Te-sheng (陳德生), skipper of the Te Hung Hsing No. 368 fishing boat, and Ho Chang-lin (何昌琳), the vessel’s chief engineer, and throwing the bodies overboard.
The alleged crimes reportedly followed a dispute between the crew and the skipper while the ship was operating in the Pacific.
The owner of the boat reported to authorities on July 18 that the skipper had not responded to his satellite calls, for three days.
The report prompted the administration to send a frigate to intercept the fishing boat nearly 4,500 nautical miles (8,300km) from Taiwan’s southernmost tip.