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Issue #1780      June 7, 2017

Seafarers murdered

The International Transport Workers’ Federation says Coronial findings finally proved two seafarers were murdered on board the Panamanian registered Sage Sagittarius off the Australian coast. After a two-year investigation, the NSW Coroner found the ship’s chief cook and chief engineer met with foul play at the hand/s of other unidentified persons on board the Flag of Convenience (FOC) ship.

The Coroner recommended her findings be sent to Japanese authorities to investigate a third suspicious death on board. A company official, sent by the owners to Australia to investigate, was found dead on the ship once it docked back in Japan.

“Three men were killed in just over five weeks on board the MV Sage Sagittarius, which was captained by a gun running, stand-over-man who was transferred to another FOC ship working exclusively on the Australian coast for a year after the 2012 deaths,” ITF Australian Coordinator, Dean Summers, said.

“Two families have been devastated, four children have lost their fathers – they live in fear for their own lives after their loved ones were murdered while working in Australian waters.

“The federal government must act immediately to counter the national security threat posed by FOCs and which Australian Border Force has warned against in a senate inquiry.

The Coroner said: “This inquest has highlighted the fact there are very significant practical impediments created by a disappearance or death on board a foreign flagged vessel.”

Summers said the inquest had highlighted the lawlessness on our coast, brought by the dodgy FOC system, which Australia now completely relies on for domestic trade including all fuel and 1 million tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate.

“Flag of Convenience ships are registered in countries prepared to prostitute their flags, like Panama and Mongolia – in return for tax avoidance, minimum regulation and little or no responsibility, like what we have seen exposed here today,” Mr Summers said.

The triple unexplained deaths in 2012 on board the ship, trading between Newcastle and Japan, sparked a federal police investigation and subsequent Senate Inquiry.

“Earlier this month the federal government effectively dismissed all of the senate FOC inquiry’s recommendations. This ignores the ABF’s warnings of national security vulnerability from terrorists and crime syndicates and encourages exploitation of foreign workers like those on BP and Caltex coastal tankers working for $1.25 per hour.”

Last month’s senate’s estimates exposed the foreign maritime crew visa as an “Immigration process” and not a security check.

Next article – King Coal’s death rattle

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