On Thursday, the Kaohsiung branch of the High Court reduced a Chinese national’s prison sentence to 13 years from 26 years for ordering the killing of suspected pirates as the captain of a Taiwan-based vessel back in 2012.
Wang Fengyu was arrested on 22 August 2020, after Indian Star – the ship flying the flag of Seychelles docked at the Kaohsiung port. He was the captain of that ship. Kaohsiung prosecutors in 2020, around October reportedly charged Wang with contraventions of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition, and Knives Act and homicide for killing four men suspected to be pirates.
In January 2022, the Kaohsiung District Court found Wang to be guilty of charges and sentenced 26 years of imprisonment.
Wang appealed the case, but in May 2022, the High Court upheld the sentence. He filed yet another appeal with the Supreme Court that had pointed out some discrepancies with the evidence, and it in August 2022, ordered the High Court’s Kaohsiung branch to reexamine it for a retrial.
On Thursday, the High Court said the evidence highlighted that Wang had ordered to kill one suspected pirate, and not four, and this has brought down the sentence to 13 years. The court mentioned that it considered in its ruling the security issues that were related to this incident at sea.
There is still time for the ruling to be appealed.
The incident took place in 2012 on 29 September, on the Ping Shin No. 101 – registered with Kaohsiung — as it was operating off Somalia, in the Indian Ocean.
Wang had been hired by a Kaohsiung firm to serve as the captain of the vessel — Ping Shin in 2011, court documents reflected.
The vessel was nearly 595km southeast of Mogadishu when it, along with Chun I No. 217 and two other fishing boats, were fired by a vessel that was crewed by four suspected pirates.
One of the fishing boats had collided with the attacking vessel that capsized, depositing crew members in the water. Wang instructed two crew members from Pakistan to shoot the men in the water.
In 2014, about two years later, these killings became public when a 10-minute video of the alleged shootings went online after a smartphone believed to have captured the shootings was found inside a taxi in Fiji and an anonymous user had uploaded the video on YouTube.
In the video clip clip, a man considered to be the ship’s captain is heard sending out orders in Mandarin over a loudspeaker to the crew, as 40 rounds of live ammunition were fired.
The four men in the water were then shot one after the other. The video captures how the water turned red. No images of the shooters were seen.
Even though Wang is from China and the crime had taken place in the Indian Ocean, the prosecutors said that they were able to charge him in Taiwan as the shootings had taken place on a Taiwan-based vessel.
References: Focus Taiwan, Taiwan News