Indonesia makes more arrests in sailor's torture killing

Batam (Indonesia) (AFP) –


Indonesian police have charged four more people in connection with the alleged torturing to death of an Indonesian crew member found in a freezer aboard a Chinese fishing vessel, authorities said Monday.

They were executives at Indonesian recruitment agencies which hire locals -- such as 20-year-old Hasan Apriadi, who died last month -- to work on Chinese ships, police said.

A Chinese supervisor on the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118 vessel has been charged in Apriadi's death and for assaulting other Indonesian crew.

In all, six recruiting agency bosses are now facing human-trafficking charges, including allegations they lied to dozens of Indonesians placed aboard Chinese fishing vessels by saying that they would be working as waiters or staff in retail stores overseas, police said.

"The suspects engaged in illegal recruitment and deceived the victims with false promises," said Arie Dharmanto, director of the general crimes unit for Indonesia's Riau Islands province.

The suspects also face charges that they knowingly put the crew members at risk, and could be hit with a maximum life sentence if found guilty, according to police.

Anti-trafficking experts say the fishing industry is riddled with forced labour and exploited workers face non-payment, overwork, violence and death.

Southeast Asia is a major source of such labour and unscrupulous recruiters target the poor and uneducated with promises of good wages at sea.

Earlier this month two Chinese boats were intercepted in the Malacca Strait, which separates Indonesia and Malaysia, after authorities received information that a crew member had died aboard one of the vessels.

They later found Apriadi's frozen body on the vessel and arrested Chinese national Song Chuanyun.

Authorities said that Song allegedly had forced the victim to work despite being ill.

They said he tortured the Indonesian and deprived him of food or water for several days before he died in late June.