Investigation starts as possibly hijacked fishing boat returned to Taiwan


TAIPEI–Employees of a local fishing operator brought a locally registered boat back to Taiwan Thursday after a suspected hijacking at sea by its Indonesian crew members left the Taiwanese skipper missing.

Prosecutors and police boarded the Pingtung-registered Kuo-Rong No. 333 after it was returned to Donggang harbor and spent more than six hours gathering evidence and examining the vessel.

Authorities said they collected DNA samples and took the voyage data recorder to pass on to related agencies for analysis. There was no surveillance camera on the boat, they said.

Prosecutors said that they will interview the owner of the ship, Lin Chin-hsi, and the family of missing skipper Chen Chih-wen to learn more details.

Lin had sent two employees to retrieve the boat after it was discovered near Indonesia’s Lombok island.

The ship set out from Palau on June 12 for the Solomon Islands, but several satellite phone calls to the skipper on June 19 went unanswered, leaving Lin to suspect a hijacking.

The boat was intercepted by an Indonesian naval frigate June 25 in waters north of Lombok, but naval officers found no signs of Chen upon boarding.

According to a preliminary investigation by Indonesian authorities, the 12 Indonesian crew members said that Chen had fallen overboard due to inclement weather.