Viet­nam-held ‘pi­rates’ speak­ing In­done­sian

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

Eight men de­tained by Viet­nam on sus­pi­cion of hi­jack­ing a Malaysian-flagged tanker speak In­done­sian and were car­ry­ing large amounts of cash when they were ap­pre­hended, state media re­ported Sun­day.

The group were taken into cus­tody on Fri­day af­ter they pulled up to Viet­nam’s south­west­ern Tho Chu is­land in a lifeboat claim­ing to have en­coun­tered an ac­ci­dent at sea.

The same day Malaysian author­i­ties said eight men who had com­man­deered the MT Orkim Har­mony a week ear­lier had man­aged to give war­ships the slip by es­cap­ing in a lifeboat un­der cover of dark­ness.

The ves­sel was the latest to be tar­geted by in­creas­ingly bold pi­rates be­hind an up­surge of sea hi­jack­ings in South­east Asia in the past two years that have typ­i­cally tar­geted smaller tankers car­ry­ing valu­able petrol, diesel or gas oil.

VNEx­press Sun­day said the eight men — aged from 19 to 61 — spoke in In­done­sian and “could not ex­plain the ori­gin of a big vol­ume of for­eign cur­rency they were car­ry­ing and dozens of phones.”

“These sus­pects were very stub­born, re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate. They were pro­fes­sional and were very calm,” Lt. Do Van Toan of Viet­nam’s Marine Po­lice was quoted as say­ing.

Another marine po­lice of­fi­cial, Col. Le Van Minh, said in­ves­ti­ga­tors “have enough grounds to charge these eight sus­pects.”

“Viet­nam is ac­tively co­op­er­at­ing with Malaysia in the case. The point is how to make them ad­mit their crimes,” he added.

In­done­sia’s state news agency said Jakarta had or­dered its Hanoi em­bassy to find out the na­tion­al­ity of the men.

MT Orkim Har­mony, car­ry­ing around 6,000 tonnes of petrol worth an es­ti­mated US$5.6 mil­lion, went miss­ing on June 11 en route from Malaysia’s western coast to the port of Kuantan on the east coast.

The ves­sel’s 22 crew mem­bers were un­scathed ex­cept for a slightly in­jured In­done­sian sea­men who was be­ing treated for a gun­shot wound to the thigh, the Malaysian navy said Fri­day.

The pi­rates had man­aged to slip away by or­der­ing naval ves­sels to stay at least five nau­ti­cal miles from the ship or the crew would be harmed.

The Lon­don-based In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Bureau has re­peat­edly warned that South­east Asian wa­ters are now the world’s most pira­cyprone, call­ing for decisive ac­tion by re­gional author­i­ties to pre­vent the sit­u­a­tion spi­ral­ing out of con­trol.

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