Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Strange Detention of Captain Aroza

Apparently, Chen Shui-bian is not the only person suffering questionable detentions in Taiwan, as the person who flipped me this article noted. And the tale fits perfectly with our focus on things marine today. From the Times of India:
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 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.
The article observes:
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.

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.
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:
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.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

What if they were white?

Anonymous said...

This is a great post and is a great example of not just regurgitating, summarizing, highlighting a single standard news article that bloggers posts too often are. You gather together several news sources to give a fuller picture of what has happened, most of your readers probably wouldn't be familiar with. Cool.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, anon. I love stories like this. I hope everything works out for them.


Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

Since I don't have a blog of my own, you may appreciate this post of mine that got rejected at, where I commented on what I thought was reflective of a degree of ignorance by a game's designer:

Subject: China Rail: Why I will never ever play this.
Well, having read the reviews and looked at the pictures of the board, I can safely say that I will definitely NOT be buying or playing this game.

I really think the design of this game needs a serious rethink...because

A. despite the implication of the blurb on the back, Taiwan has NEVER been part of the People's Republic of China (the PRC): so, strike one.

B. There have been NO direct air or sea connections between Taiwan and the PRC at all for nearly 60 years. Therefore the 'game scenario' is impossible. strike 2

C. Implying that the PR Chinese rail network needs to connect to Taiwan to be "complete" ignores the fact that for such an event to occur, the Taiwanese people, who are democratic, would have be largely unwillingly absorbed by a Communist dictatorship...very distasteful...Strike Three, OUT.

If the PRC can call for boycotts, so can I :-)

sailors helpline said...

Sailors Helpline campaign for the release of Capt. Glen Patrick Aroza and other innocent seafarers who are detained in Taiwan.
We would kindly request you to please spare few minutes and sign the petition for the early release of Capt. Glen and other seafarers held in Taiwan.

the ancient mariner said...

Hi Michael, You may be aware that Capt. Aroza has finally returned to his hometown Mangalore. People from various walks of life and from different parts of the world contributed to his release. Thank you.

Capt. Ramprasad