Chinese sailor accused of torturing to death Indonesian crew member

A Chinese sailor is facing trial over torture death of an Indonesian crew member whose body was found in a freezer aboard a fishing vessel, reported AFP citing police on Jul 13.
July 14, 2020 | 06:20
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chinese sailor accused of torturing to death indonesian crew member
Indonesian police removing the body of an Indonesian crew member on a fishing ship on Jul 8, 2020, after he was killed in Batam. (Photo: AFP/TEGUH PRIHATNA)

Song Chuanyun was named a torture suspect following four days of questioning in Indonesia after the authorities last week intercepted two Chinese boats Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117 and its sister ship Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118 around Nipah Islands in the Malacca Strait heading from Singapore to Argentina.

The 20-year-old sailor’s body was discovered in a freezer of the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117 by police, who have claimed that it seems to have been in the freezer since last month. This incident has raised suspicion of frequent instances of human trafficking, torture, and abuse subjected to quite a number of Indonesian nationals working on Chinese ships.

Riau islands police general crime investigation director Arie Dharmanto said Song would be tried in Indonesia because the investigation revealed the incident occurred in the country's territorial waters.

"All legal process would be done in Indonesia and we are also looking further to see whether we could use human trafficking charges in the case in addition to the torture allegations," Dharmanto told AFP.

He said the Indonesian crew members suffered abuse and horrific conditions aboard the Chinese vessel.

Police were now chasing several individuals in Indonesia who worked at an agency recruiting crew members for the two Chinese boats.

Police Chief Inspector General Aris Budiman and a team of the coast guard, police and naval officials initiated a search after receiving reports about the victim’s disappearance from his family on the 29th of June, 2020. After receiving intel on the location of the ships, the joint force was able to catch the targets in a few hours.

15 Chinese nationals, 8 Filipinos, and 10 Indonesians were found working on the seized boat, along with the captain, all of whom are currently detained and placed under investigation. Over 9 people were arrested on Jul 9 on claims of abuse.

Song Chuanyun worked as a crew coordinator on the Lu Huang Yuang Yu 118 and frequently beat Indonesian crew members, including 20-year-old Hasan Apriadi, whose body was kept inside a freezer since late June, according to Dharmanto.

"The victim was sick but forced to work. So he was beaten. After being tortured, the victim was left without food for three days before he died," Dharmanto said.

Preliminary autopsy results showed the victim suffered many wounds on his body after being hit with an object, police said.

Dozens of crew members hailing from China, Indonesia and the Philippines were being questioned in the Riau islands in connection with the man's death.

Forced, illegal labour

chinese sailor accused of torturing to death indonesian crew member
Body of Indonesian fisherman dumped overboard amid allegations of abuse on Chinese ship.

Anti-trafficking experts say the fishing industry is riddled with forced labour and exploited workers can face non-payment, overwork, violence and death.

In May, a Facebook video showed sailors on Lu Qing Yuan Yu 623 dumping the body of an Indonesian sailor into the sea. 30 Indonesian crewmen have also been reportedly exploited which resulted in 7 deaths and missing 3 of the other sea-workers, as per an Indonesian NGO, Destructive Fishing Watch.

Jakarta later said it was told that the men had died of illness, while Beijing described the sea burials as being in line with international law.

The abusive practices have triggered the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to demand China to present facts pertaining to the case. United Nations Human Rights Council has also been petitioned by Jakarta to take steps regarding the same. While the Chinese had stated that they would “deal with the issue based on facts and law” in May earlier this year, there has been no progress./.

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