Death Ship Inquest: Foul Play ‘Unlikely’, but Not Ruled Out
An inquest into the mariners’ deaths on board the Panama-flagged coal carrier Sage Sagittarius, which became known as the Death ship, seems to be taking a different direction as evidence emerges indicating that foul play that had been attributed to the crew members’ deaths was unlikely.
Namely, according to the blood evidence provided by Detective Sergeant Harkins during a Thursday sitting “it was unlikely that others were involved” in the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, who died in late 2012, local media report.
Hector Collado is believed to had fallen from an 11-metre deck to a deck below while en route to New Castle. However, the suspicious circumstances surrounding the engineer’s death were further underscored by the findings of a forensic investigation showing that Collado had a head injury that was unrelated to the fall.
Collado’s death is one of the three suspicious death cases that occurred on board the ship in 2012, two of which have been subjected to an inquest by the New South Wales Coroner Court.
Nevertheless, even though findings provided by Detective Sergeant Harkins show that foul play was most unlikely, Harkins could not fully rule out potential involvement of others in the fatality.
As World Maritime News reported earlier, during the previous inquest hearings the ship’s captain was accused of physically assaulting the crew on board the ship, which the captain admitted in addition to his involvement in gun running. What is more, key black box data related to the accidents were found missing from the notorious Sage Sagittarius and various breaches of reporting regulations regarding the fatalities have been found as well.
According to the ITF, the Sage Sagittarius is not an isolated incident, as several other vessel inspections in Australian waters found foreign crews being mistreated under the Flag of Convenience, which often saw seafarers being denied pay and even food.
The inquest will be continued in February, 2016.
World Maritime News Staff