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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chinese captain, crew charged

The Chinese captain and seven crew members on board the merchant vessel from which three Ivorian stowaways were allegedly dumped into the high seas of Ghana have been charged before the High Court in Sekondi.

They were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit crime, to wit, attempted murder and murder.

That, according to prosecutors, followed the discovery of compelling evidence on the vessel as mentioned by the two victims who survived the incident.

The accused are the Captain, Li Zibin, 48; the chief officer, Jiang Hong, 38; a steward, Liu Song, 24; an engineer, Tian Shengju, 39, a sailor, Zheng Jungi 28; an electrician, Zhao Nuitao 26; an engineer, Wang Junxing, 37, and the second chief officer, Zhou Youg Joan, 34.

On their first appearance in court, the eight were refused bail and the case was adjourned to Tuesday, July 13, 2010.

Police sources told the Daily Graphic that the owners of the vessel had flown in new crew members to take over the ship.

Omar Secei, 33, and Djiba Kamarah, 22, the two survivors who spent more than 12 hours on the sea and were rescued by a Ghana Navy ship after being spotted by some fishermen are in police cells.

Asked why the police were still keeping the two in cells, one of the prosecutors said they were witnesses and so if they were released to go back to Cote d'Ivoire, it would be difficult to get them to testify as prosecution witnesses.

The two stowaways have, however, protested against their continued incarceration, arguing that it violated their rights under the United Nations and ITF Seafarers regulations.

The lead prosecutor, Ms Patience Klinogo, a Chief State Attorney, prayed the Court, in her objection to the bail application, that it would be dangerous to grant the suspects bail, since they could jump bail.

She said the offence was a serious one, since its punishment could be beyond 20 years in jail and even a life sentence, and, therefore, the bail application should be dismissed.

It would be recalled that agents of National Security impounded a vessel and investigated a case of cruelty on the high seas in which three Ivorian nationals were alleged to have been thrown into the ocean by the captain of a Chinese vessel.

The victims told the police that they had evidence, made up of black plastic bags they had used in stealing food and a hat they had used to clean their footsteps to prevent their being discovered.

The captain allowed a search on the vessel and the hidden items were found.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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