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Foul play deemed likely on Japanese ‘death ship’, court told

Sydney: Foul play was most likely on a vessel dubbed “the death ship”, a court in Australia was told.

The Glebe Coroners Court has been trying to determine if the deaths of three seafarers onboard the Sage Sagittarius (built 2000; 105,708 dwt), within a six-week period in 2012, were accidents or murders.

The chief cook, Fillipino Cesar Llanto, disappeared overboard from the coal carrier in August 2012 as it approached Australian waters.

Two weeks later, engineer Hector Collado was killed while the ship was moored at the Port of Newcastle.

The third man, Kosaku Monji, a Japanese superintendent, was crushed to death in a conveyer belt as the Sage Sagittarius docked in Japan.

At the time of the first death, the court was told that the mood onboard the ship, controlled by Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), was not good, with plenty of rows breaking out between crewmembers.

“At the very time of the disappearance and the death, there was intense personal conflict and mutual mistrust among the crew,” counsel assisting the inquest, Philip Strickland, said today.

The court was told the ship’s captain, Venancio Salas, had been accused of physically assaulting crew and pressuring them to buy guns from his contacts.

The inquest continues.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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