Six Indonesian crewmen suspected of murdering the skipper and chief engineer of a Taiwanese fishing boat last month have been detained, while three others have been referred to Indonesian authorities in Taiwan, the Yilan District Prosecutors’ Office said.
Six of the nine Indonesians employed on the Suao-registered Te Hung Hsing No. 368 are suspected of involvement in throwing the fishing boat’s skipper, Chen Te-sheng (陳德生), and chief engineer, Ho Chang-lin (何昌琳), overboard in the eastern Pacific, Yilan prosecutors said after questioning the crewmen on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said a senior Indonesian crewman had an argument with Chen over work assignments. The sparring developed into a conflict in which the Indonesian is alleged to have attacked Chen with a plastic float. Chen fell unconscious and other Indonesian workers allegedly threw him overboard, followed by Ho.
The boat was later intercepted by two Coast Guard Administration (CGA) patrol vessels and towed back to Suao (蘇澳), where the suspects were referred to prosecution authorities for questioning. The three who were handed over to the Indonesian authorities in Taiwan are suspected of illegally taking control of the vessel and causing damage to the property, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The Te Hung Hsing No. 368 left Nanfangao in Yilan County on Jan. 18 to fish in the eastern Pacific. It lost contact with the ship’s owner in Yilan on July 16. The CGA was informed two days later that the ship’s skipper and chief engineer, the only two Taiwanese on board, had not been in contact for three days.
At the time, the fishing boat was 10,945km southeast of Oluanpi at the southernmost tip of Taiwan. A CGA patrol vessel caught up with the fishing boat in waters 623 nautical miles (1,154km) southwest of Kiribati on July 27. CGA officers did not find any sign of the boat’s skipper or chief engineer upon boarding and searching the boat. The CGA then sent another patrol vessel to help with the investigation.