Oyang 75 officers likely to face charges

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:42 12/06/2012
Oyang 75
Scrutinised: The Oyang 75.

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South Korean authorities are reportedly planning criminal charges against officers of the fishing boat Oyang 75 over alleged abuse of Indonesian crew members.

Five officers of Oyang and the owners, Sajo Oyang, are facing fish dumping charges in the Christchurch District Court.

The court yesterday heard evidence of abuse of the mainly Indonesia crew aboard the vessel.

Following extensive exposure of the abuse aboard mainly Korean flagged foreign charter vessels, the Korean Government sent an investigation team to New Zealand.

The team said yesterday confirmed that Indonesian crews had been repeatedly assaulted by four Korean officers.

"The team plans to request an investigation of the Koreans after booking them on suspicion of assault and other charges," News website Hankyoreh 21 reported.

The investigation team also confirmed that some of the companies linked to Oyang 75 were denying foreign workers severance and holiday pay, which was guaranteed by South Korea's Seamen's Law.

"It was considering seeking criminal punishment regarding these charges."

The investigation team would visit Indonesia to interview the Oyang 75 crew there.

Oyang 75 is overseas but has been bonded back to the New Zealand fishery authorities. It would be forfeit to the Crown if the charges were found proved.

Fisheries prosecutor Grant Fletcher said the officers had a cavalier and arrogant attitude to the rules and crew members would describe their behaviour as "cruel".

The Indonesian and Filipino crew walked off the ship when it put into Lyttelton after two fishery trips last year, citing issues with inhumane treatment, long hours, and pay issues.

The master of the fishing boat, Chong Pil Yun, 41, is charged with aiding the dumping of fish, making false or misleading statements, and hindering a fisheries observer.

The deck bosun, Wongeun Kang, 42, is charged with aiding the dumpings.

Juncheol Lee, 36, who was the radio operator, and the chief officer, Minsu Park, 41, are charged with aiding the dumpings, and making false or misleading statements.

Tae Won Jo, 51, was the factory manager and is charged with aiding the dumpings.

Fisheries officials allege that damaged and small quota fish were dumped at sea.

Fish worth less were discarded and higher quality fish were then caught to maximum returns for the company.

The maximum fines on the dumping charges are $250,000, but $100,000 on the reporting charges. The vessel would also be forfeit.

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The court heard yesterday from the first witness deckhand Slamet Raharjo, who said he had seen discarding going on in the factory, and the captain would have known that significant fish dumping was taking place on the first voyage.

He was fearful of some officers. "They were very angry people," he told the court. If he had spoken out, he feared he would be sent home.

- Stuff

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