A Chinese captain has been charged in Taiwan by the Kaohsiung Prosecutors’ Office for allegedly ordering the killings of four suspected Somali pirates while he was the captain of a Taiwanese fishing boat.
Wang Fengyu (汪峰裕), the suspect, is 43-year-old and was charged with homicide and breaches under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition, and Knives Act. It is suspected that Wang asked two Pakistani mercenaries that he hired as acting captain of the Kaohsiung-registered Ping Shin No. 101 to fire on and kill the four suspected allegedly unarmed Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean off the Somalian coast on Sept. 29, 2012, says the indictment.
The captain has been charged with homicide and gun control on multiple counts. Though Wang is a Chinese citizen and the incident occurred in the Indian Ocean, as it had occurred on a Taiwanese vessel he can be prosecuted in a country where homicide is punishable by the death penalty and carries a minimum 10-year sentence. But in this case, prosecutors showed some leniency, on the basis that the alleged pirates were the first to open fire.
The incident took place in September of the year 2012 in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast. The captain reported that alleged Somali pirates shot at his including three other fishing boats when one of the boats managed to knock the pirates into the sea. The prosecutors say that the captain ordered his Pakistani security guards to open fire on the pirates as they tried to stay afloat in the sea, knowing they would not be able to defend themselves.
Activists stated that the case is an example of the lawlessness that prevails at sea, particularly among Indian Ocean fisheries.
The captain was arrested in August (2020) when his ship docked at Kaohsiung port, Taiwan. His arrest warrant had been issued back in December 2018. The captain repeatedly claims that he acted to stop the pirates from escaping and bringing back others to hijack his vessel. He was quoted as admitting to prosecutors that he was involved in ‘tracking down pirates’ but the shootings were done in ‘self-defense’.
These killings happened in 2012 but only came to light in 2014, after someone posted a 10-minute clip on YouTube. It was the video of the incident and was found on a mobile phone left in the back of a taxi in Fiji.
A man’s voice giving orders in Mandarin is audible in the video, during four alleged pirates are in the water, after which dozens of rounds of ammunition are fired at them. Later the video also shows the bodies of the victims floating in the water.