Monday, December 8, 2014

Seaman on Bulk Freight Vessel Shot to Death by Pirates

Outrage at Senseless Murder as Cry Goes Up Against European Court Ruling
Shipping News Feature

SINGAPORE – VIETNAM – FRANCE – SOMALIA – WORLDWIDE – There is a tangible sense of disgust this week as details of another crewman murdered aboard his ship by pirates comes out. Despite falling numbers of incidents, particularly in the Indian Ocean, other areas of the world are still witnessing regular attacks and on December 7 the bulk freight vessel the M/T VP Asphalt 2 laden with 2,300 tonnes of bitumen, was attacked by pirates who boarded the ship.

The tanker was bound for Go Dau, Vietnam having loaded in Singapore and all sixteen Vietnamese crew were overpowered and tied up whilst the seven robbers searched the ship, examining the cargo then turning their attention to personal valuables and possessions of the crew. Only after they had disembarked and the crew freed themselves was 3rd Engineer Tran Duc Dat discovered in his cabin shot through the head. Despite medical advice given over the radio by the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (VMRCC), and evacuation to hospital after the Singapore Air Force sent a helicopter to take the wounded ashore, he expired just an hour after arrival at the medical facility.

The incident has outraged the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) whose welfare responder Capt. Viet Anh made contact with the ship owners and the family of the seafarers involved. The company have made arrangements for the family members to visit the hospital in Singapore. Roy Paul, MPHRP Programme Director said:

“Again a seafarer’s life has been unnecessarily taken by brutal criminals and this has caused a great deal of devastation to the seafarer’s family and his colleagues in the maritime industry. MPHRP will do whatever it can to support those affected and hopes that the authorities will bring the criminals to justice. The attack on M/T VP Asphalt 2 was close to the position where M/V Sunrise [689] was attacked recently on 2 October 2014 and this needs very intense investigation and a rapid response now they have taken another innocent seafarers life.”

Meanwhile the decision of a European Court last week to award thousands of euro’s to Somali pirates who attacked French shipping has engendered a similar response from MPHRP when the guilty men claimed they had been subjected to unreasonable delays after capture before they had been brought before a judge to determine their status, a claim which was upheld by the Court. Roy Paul again:

“This decision would be unbelievable if it wasn’t made by the European Court of Human Rights. The claim that this constituted a 'violation of their rights to freedom and security,' is an insult to the seafarers and yachtsmen they attacked as surely this is the true violation of the seafarers’ rights to freedom and security. These Pirates, in my opinion, gave up any of their rights when they set sail to attack innocent seafarers who were simply doing their essential work.

“I hope that the States in the European Union will look very seriously at this judgement and get it reversed as it is an insult to all in the maritime industry especially as the judgement was made just before a Vietnamese seafarer was murdered by pirates in an attack on board his vessel.”

Chirag Barhi, MPHRP South Asia Regional Director, who survived 8 months at the hands of pirates in 2010 and has met many of the survivors who have suffered various forms of torture and had their rights to freedom and security violated, commented:

“I am sure all those Seafarers, their families, relatives, friends and many in the maritime industry who ever had suffered due to this piracy menace‎, will surely feel very annoyed to hear this judgement. The seafarers held by pirates such as the ones caught by France have been held up to four years and no court has ever awarded them anything for their ‘moral damages’.”