The International Transport Workers’ Federation has called for the Coroner to recommend charging the captain of the Sage Sagittarius, dubbed the Death Ship, in connection with the mysterious deaths that occurred on the vessel in 2012.
The ITF has made its final submission to Australia’s coronial inquiry into two of the three deaths on board the Japanese owned, Panamanian flagged coal carrier. The third fatality is beyond the scope of the Australian inquest.
Chief cook Cesar Llanto, 42, disappeared overboard off Cairns on August 30, 2012. Chief engineer Hector Collado, 55, died a fortnight later after falling 12 storeys down an engineering shaft when the ship was moored at the Port of Newcastle.
Superintendent Kosaku Monji, whose death is not being investigated, was subsequently sent to the ship to calm the crew. Monji began an audit of the deaths on behalf of Hachiuma Steamship Company, but it was cut short when his body was found mangled in a conveyor belt on October 6.
The Inquest has heard expert opinion that vital voyage data recordings were most likely deliberately tampered with before being handed over to authorities.
Counsel assisting told the inquest the two deaths were a result of foul play, and the ship’s captain lied to Federal Police about his whereabouts at the time and had the opportunity and motive to delete data from the bridge voice recorder.
ITF National Coordinator Dean Summers says the ship’s captain, Venancio Salas, should be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
“This kind of brutality could only be perpetrated on deregulated flag-of-convenience ships,” said Summers.
The coronial inquiry has heard allegations the captain was involved in gun dealing and admitted to physically assaulting his crew.
“There’s a high cost involved in cheap shipping – intimidation, bullying – and in this case, people have paid with their lives,” Summers said.
“This murky world of flag-of-convenience shipping is rapidly replacing our well-regulated and secured domestic shipping fleet under the Turnbull government.”