Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Chinese crew arrested in Ghana for throwing three stowaways overboard.

The Ghanaian authorities have detained the Chinese Ship MV Run Ning 3 and arrested three crewmembers after three stowaways were allegedly thrown overboard from the ship at sea; one of the stowaways has reportedly drowned, although his body has not been found.

The three stowaways, said to be Ivorians, were hiding in a crane when they were discovered by the Chinese crew, some of whom threw allegedly threw the men over the side. Djiba Kamara, 18, was rescued by a navy patrol on Sunday after he said he had been afloat for twelve hours in waters off Ghana. Another Ivorian, Omari Ceesay, 33, was found unconscious and is said to be in a stable condition at a naval hospital in the Ghanaian port city of Takoradi. Kondah Aziz, a third stowaway, could not swim and drowned, Kamara says. Kamara claims that the three was thrown overboard last Saturday night.

It is believed that the stowaways hid themselves on board the Run Ning 3 whilst she was docked at the Ivorian port of Abidjan. The ship then sailed for Takoradi to load bauxite, apparently for China, though the stowaways may have thought she was bound for the United States. In any event, Kamara told Ghanaian police that the three were discovered by the chief officer of the vessel who, together with his men, threw the stowaways into the sea in spite of their pleas for mercy. "They dumped Aziz first because he was the first to be discovered. Later, the two of us were also discovered and dumped," Kamara said.

After being picked up by a Ghanaian patrol boat, Kamara told police that he and Ceesay could prove that they were on the ship. "We had a black plastic bag which we used to store food and a hat which we used to clean our footprints in the vessel," he said. The Ghanaian authorities found the plastic bag and the hat when they boarded the vessel for investigation, exactly where Kamara said they were hidden. In addition, Kamara was able to identify Jiang Youg Sun, the Chief Officer of the Run Ning 3 and the cook, allegedly the mastermind behind the murderous act.

Amidu Mahama, Ghana's Western Region police commander, told the BBC that evidence had been found on board that appeared to corroborate the Ivorian survivor's story. He said the police are waiting for advice from Ghana's attorney-general and ministry of foreign affairs on how to proceed.

Meanwhile, the MV Run Ning 3 has been impounded and is currently docked at the Takoradi Port. The agents of the vessel are taking responsibility for the two surviving stowaways, providing them with food, shelter and medical facilities. Ghanaian National Security officials have ordered the vessel to stay put or the "Ghana Navy" would be sent after it.

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