Taiwanese vessel seen in the background of high-seas killing video
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
August 23, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese authorities yesterday confirmed that one of the boats caught on an online video that recorded the killing of four castaways on the high seas was a Taiwanese fishing vessel.
However, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Fisheries Agency (漁業署) said the Taiwanese boat was not involved in the shooting incident.
It was simply "passing by" when the shooting took place, James Sha (沙志一), director-general of Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (漁業署), told local media yesterday.
Sha made the comments in response to a 10-minute video posted on YouTube earlier this week that shows four men clinging to what appears to be an upturned boat as gunmen on vessels circling around them open fire, eventually killing all of them.
It was posted under the title "Fishing vessel fijian crew gettin shot, out side fiji waters (sic)." But there is nothing in the footage that shows when or where the apparent killings took place.
Foreign media reports said that one of the boats at the scene could be of Taiwan origin because of a sign over a hatch saying, in Mandarin, "Safety is number one."
Quoting sources, foreign reports said the Taiwanese boat is the 725-ton Chun I No. 217 (春億217號).
Asked to comment, Sha yesterday told reporters that the vessel is indeed the Chun I No. 217.
However, he stressed that the Taiwanese vessel was simply passing by when the incident took place.
Also, the incident recorded in the video did not happen in seas near Fiji as suggested in its title, Sha said. Fiji authorities have already clarified this point, he noted.
According to the agency's understanding, the Chun I No. 217 has been operating in the Indian Ocean in recent years. He, therefore, suspected that the incident recorded in the video footage might have taken place in the Indian Ocean.
Failed Hijacking Attempt?
He suspected that the video footage may be a recording of a failed hijacking attempt and the shooting victims could be pirates.
Fishing vessels operating in open seas often hire armed security staff. The armed guards on the fishing vessel were apparently shooting the "pirates," Sha said.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic source also confirmed the identity of the Taiwanese boat. However, the source said the incident as shown in the footage was not taken recently but around a year ago.
Many Taiwanese fishing vessels have also hired armed guards following the passage of a Fisheries Act (漁業法) amendment last year that permits ship owners to deploy armed guards on their vessels when sailing in dangerous waters.
The amendment was passed in the wake of a number of incidents where several Taiwanese fishing boats were hijacked in the Indian Ocean.