These are testings time for the family of Captain Glen Patrick Aroza, the captain of a Japanese Very Large Cargo Carrier (VLCC) M T Tosa. Aroza's trial commences on August 20 at Hualien County, Taiwan, for alleged `involuntary man-slaughter.'The article observes:
The Taiwanese authorities detaind Capt Aroza (37) and his two colleagues, second officer Mohammed Rizaul Karim from Bangladesh and seaman Eduwardo Mallorca, for an alleged mishap with a Taiwanese trawler in the international waters on April 17. The trio has been accused of causing the trawler to capsize and the death of two fishermen.
Preetha has reason to be apprehensive. The same authorities had detained Capt Raj Kumar Goel in Taiwan from February 7, 1996 to June 22, 1999 on allegations of collision of a container ship, under his command, with a Taiwanese fishing boat. He was acquitted of all the charges, but it cost him three years of his life.Another article in an Indian newspaper, which says that Capt Goel had called Capt Aroza's wife to warn her to get the process speeded up, notes:
An hour after the incident, the news of the trawler having sunk in the sea, came in. Out of the 13 crew on the boat, two had gone missing. The others were rescued by the Taiwan Coast Guards. Speaking to Deccan Herald, Preeta Aroza, wife of Capt Glen, said that her husband came to know about the sunken boat only at around 9 am on April 17. By then, he was asked by the Taiwan Coast Guards to berth the ship in Taiwan port. The officials there alleged that the trawler sank, after the ship collided with it.Apparently the Indian mission here has taken up the case, as has one of the local Catholic service organizations. The latter provides a detailed account of the events leading up to the case. Interestingly, it says at the bottom:
Ever since, Capt Aroza, Second Officer Karim (Bangladeshi) and Able Bodied Seaman Edward Mallorca (Filipino) have been detained in Taiwan and are being questioned.
Preeta, quoting her husband, said that even after three inspections, the authorities there could not get any proof of the boat having involved with a collision with the ship in question. “The Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (like the black box in an aircraft), which records the activity of the ship shows that there was absolutely no contact between the ship and the boat,” she said. Preeta said that she and Glen fear that the Taiwanese authorities may fix the officers. “The shipping company, N Y K Ship Management Private Limited, has assured that they have appointed the best lawyer for the detainees. But Glen is worried whether the Chinese lawyer could effectively represent the case due to the language barrier between the detained officers and the lawyer,” she said.
4. The trawler named “SHINGTONG CHEN #86” was salvaged and towed to a nearby port called SUAO where survey was carried out only by the fishing company’s reps. Tosa’s reps did not join the survey. The body of the Chief Engineer was found in the engine room bottom. The Master is still missing. Pictures of the fishing trawler after recovery are available, no signs of damage on the hull of the fishing boat. Besides, a few crew of the fishing trawler have given statement that there was no actual contact between the two vessels. The actual reason for the capsize of the trawler is not known.This Indian paper notes that the authorities first claimed Tosa had struck the trawler, then, when no evidence of collision could be found, the authorities said that the ship's wake had capsized the Taiwan fishing vessel, an occurrence the paper dismisses as unlikely. Longtime Taiwan residents will recognize the universality of that progression, although, in fairness, it should be noted that we know only Captain Aroza's side. I cannot find any statements from local authorities about the case.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Shipowner's Association (HKSOA) has called upon the authorities to either prosecute the men or immediately release them. Saying that Tosa was at least an hour from the point of capsize, HKSOA says it is...
"once again, appalled and extremely disappointed at the continuing trend of so-called 'developed' economies to treat seafarers with little regard for their basic human rights."I'll let that stand as the epitaph of this story.
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