Fishing Boat's Chief Mate Charged With Killing Eight Crewmembers

Courtesy Taiwan Coast Guard Administration

Published Jul 12, 2019 10:33 PM by Paul Benecki

Prosecutors in Pingtung County, Taiwan have indicted a Philippine fisherman on charges of killing eight of his crewmates aboard a Taiwanese fishing vessel this February. 

Early this year, the suspect was serving as the chief mate aboard the tuna fishing vessel Wen Peng on a voyage in the Indian Ocean. On February 20, while the boat was operating off Mauritius, the mate was involved in a verbal altercation with some of the crewmembers over their work. He then stabbed and killed one Philippine crewmember, then a second, prompting eight additional members of the crew to jump over the side to escape.

Two of those who went over the side were rescued by another vessel; six others are missing and presumed dead. In total, three Philippine nationals and five Indonesians died in the fight.

Two of the survivors were seriously injured and were evacuated to a hospital in Sri Lanka for treatment. The master, chief engineer and fisheries observer - all Taiwanese nationals - hid to escape the attack and later jumped overboard in order to be rescued by another fishing boat. 

The chief mate was the last person left on board, and other Taiwanese vessels remained in the vicinity to track the boat's movements. The Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel Hsun Hu 8 was dispatched to intercept and take back control of the Wen Peng, and it accomplished its mission on March 2, returning to Kaohsiung on March 24.