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Chinese captain’s sentence cut in killing of pirates

The Kaohsiung branch of the High Court on Thursday reduced a Chinese man’s jail sentence from 26 years to 13 for allegedly ordering the killing of suspected pirates while captain of a Taiwanese vessel in 2012.

Wang Fengyu was arrested on Aug. 22, 2020, after the ship he was captain of at that time, the Seychelles-flagged Indian Star, docked at the Port of Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung prosecutors in October that year charged Wang with homicide and contraventions of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act for the alleged killing of four suspected pirates.

In January last year, the Kaohsiung District Court found Wang guilty of the charges and sentenced him to 26 years imprisonment.

Wang appealed the case, but the High Court in May last year upheld the sentence. He filed another appeal with the Supreme Court, which found discrepancies in the evidence presented, and it in August last year ordered the High Court’s Kaohsiung branch to re-examine the case for a retrial.

On Thursday, the High Court said the evidence only showed that Wang had ordered the killing of one suspected pirate, not four, and reduced his sentence to 13 years. The court said it also considered in its ruling the serious security issues related to the incident taking place at sea.

The ruling can still be appealed.

The incident occurred on Sept. 29, 2012, aboard the Kaohsiung-registered Ping Shin No. 101 while it was operating in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.

Wang was hired by a Kaohsiung company to serve as acting captain of the Ping Shin in 2011, court documents showed.

The vessel was operating about 595km southeast of Mogadishu when it, along with the Kaohsiung-registered Chun I No. 217 and two other unidentified fishing boats, were allegedly fired upon by a vessel crewed by four suspected pirates, court documents showed.

One of the fishing boats rammed the attacking vessel, which capsized, depositing the crew in the water. Wang allegedly instructed two Pakistani crew members he hired to shoot the men in the water, it showed.

The killings became public two years later in August 2014 when a 10-minute video clip of the shootings was circulated online, after a smartphone believed to have filmed the shootings was found in a taxi in Fiji and an anonymous person uploaded the video to YouTube.

In the clip, a man believed to be the captain is heard giving orders in Mandarin with a Chinese accent over a loudspeaker to the crew, as 40 rounds of live ammunition are fired.

The four men in the water are shot one by one, with the video showing the water turning red around them. No images of the shooters are seen.

Although Wang is Chinese and the crime occurred in the Indian Ocean, prosecutors said they were able to charge him in Taiwan because the shootings originated on a Taiwanese vessel.

In the indictment, Wang allegedly told prosecutors that he was involved in “tracking down pirates,” but said the shootings were in “self-defense.”
Source: Taipei Times, CNA

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