JAKARTA: A Chinese sailor accused of torturing to death an Indonesian crew member whose body was found in a freezer aboard a fishing vessel will stand trial in Indonesia, police said Monday.
Song Chuanyun was named a torture suspect on Monday following four days of questioning in Indonesia after the authorities last week intercepted two Chinese boats in the Malacca Strait heading from Singapore to Argentina.
They found the frozen body of an Indonesian crew member aboard one of the vessels, the Lu Huang Yuang Yu 118.
Riau islands police general crime investigation director Arie Dharmanto said Song would be tried in Indonesia because the investigation revealed the incident occurred in the country’s territorial waters.
“All legal process would be done in Indonesia and we are also looking further to see whether we could use human trafficking charges in the case in addition to the torture allegations,” Dharmanto told AFP on Monday.
He said the Indonesian crew members suffered abuse and horrific conditions aboard the Chinese vessel.
Police were now chasing several individuals in Indonesia who worked at an agency recruiting crew members for the two Chinese boats.
Song worked as a crew coordinator on the Lu Huang Yuang Yu 118 and frequently beat Indonesian crew members, including 20-year-old Hasan Apriadi, whose body was kept inside a freezer since late June, according to Dharmanto.
“The victim was sick but forced to work. So he was beaten. After being tortured, the victim was left without food for three days before he died,” Dharmanto said.
Preliminary autopsy results showed the victim suffered many wounds on his body after being hit with an object, police said.
Dozens of crew members hailing from China, Indonesia and the Philippines were being questioned in the Riau islands in connection with the man’s death.
Anti-trafficking experts say the fishing industry is riddled with forced labour and exploited workers can face non-payment, overwork, violence and death.
In June, two Indonesian crew members jumped off a Chinese boat to escape what they described as abuse and horrific conditions.
A month earlier, three dead Indonesian crew members were thrown off a Chinese-flagged vessel into the sea.
Jakarta later said it was told that the men had died of illness, while Beijing described the sea burials as being in line with international law.