BATAM • Police in Indonesia have charged four more people in relation to the alleged torturing to death of an Indonesian crew member found in a freezer aboard a Chinese fishing vessel.
They were executives at Indonesian recruitment agencies which hire locals – like 20-year-old Hasan Apriadi who died last month – to work on Chinese ships, police said yesterday.
A Chinese supervisor on the vessel has been charged over Mr Apriadi’s death and for assaulting other Indonesian crew.
In all, six recruiting agency bosses are facing human trafficking charges, including allegations that they had lied to dozens of Indonesians placed aboard Chinese fishing vessels by saying 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 Mr Arie Dharmanto, director of the general crimes unit for Indonesia’s Riau Islands. 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 that exploited workers face non-payment of wages, overwork, violence and death.
South-east 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 the authorities received information that a crew member had died aboard one of the vessels.
They later found Mr Apriadi’s frozen body on the vessel and arrested Chinese national Song Chuanyun. The authorities said Song had allegedly forced the victim to work despite being ill, and that he deprived him of food or water for several days before he died in late June.
Anti-trafficking experts say the fishing industry is riddled with forced labour, and that exploited workers face non-payment of wages, overwork… and death.