Prosecutors on Wednesday indicted eight Indonesian fishermen on manslaughter charges relating to an incident in July that left the Taiwanese captain and chief engineer of a fishing boat dead.
The indictment said that the 98-tonne deep-sea fishing boat Te Hung Hsing No. 368 was operating in the east Pacific on July 15 when its captain, Chen Te-sheng (陳德生), became embroiled in an argument with Indonesian fishermen on board that reportedly led to his death and the death of chief engineer Ho Chang-lin (何昌琳).
Prosecutors alleged that the fisherman responsible for the killing said: “I just assaulted the captain. Now the chief engineer is your responsibility.”
Ho was apparently thrown overboard in his sleep. Prosecutors said Ho had tried to cling to a railing on the side of the boat, but was “mercilessly” kicked into the water.
The Taiwanese boat had set out from Nanfangao (南方澳) in Yilan County for waters in the east Pacific with the captain, chief engineer and nine Indonesian fishermen aboard.
The ship’s owner last communicated with its crew on July 15, when it was operating about 527 nautical miles (976km) northwest of French Polynesia.
The Coast Guard Administration later dispatched a vessel to search for the missing boat and boarded it on July 27. Coast guard officials said they could find no sign of Chen or Ho.
The coast guard vessel then escorted the boat back to Taiwan, where it arrived on Aug. 20 after a 24-day, 4,870-nautical-mile journey.
The nine Indonesian fishermen were turned over to the Yilan District Prosecutors’ Office for further investigation.
One of the fishermen was not charged.