Chinese captain of Taiwanese fishing vessel who ordered shipwrecked pirates killed loses appeal

A Chinese national sentenced to a 26-year prison term for ordering four Somali pirates from a capsized vessel shot dead lost an appeal to the High Court yesterday, May 18.

Wang Fengyu (汪峰裕), 43, was convicted of homicide by the Kaohsiung District Court January 29, 2021, for ordering the killings while serving as captain of the Kaohsiung-registered longliner Ping Shin No. 101 while it was operating in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, September 29, 2012.

According to an investigation, and the findings of the court, the Ping Shin No.101, another Kaohsiung-registered vessel, the Chun I No.217, and two unidentified vessels were operating around 600 kilometers southeast of Mogadishu when they were fired on by four pirates in a wooden boat.

One of the fishing vessels rammed the pirate’s boat, capsizing it, and sending the four pirates into the water. Wang then ordered two Pakistani mercenaries to shoot and kill the four men in the water.

The killings came to light two years later, when a 10-minute video clip of the shootings was uploaded to YouTube in August 2014. The video was apparently discovered by chance on a phone found in a taxi in Fiji.

The video showed four men clinging to floating debris without lifejackets when a voice is heard ordering to “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”

An investigation by Outlaw Ocean began in 2015, and Greenpeace highlighted the case in a report on human and labor rights abuses in Taiwan’s fishing industry in 2016.

An arrest warrant was eventually issued by Taiwan prosecutors in December, 2018, and Wang was finally arrested on August 22, 2020, when another ship he captained, the Seychelles-flagged Indian Star, docked at the Port of Kaohsiung.

From the video evidence, and other evidence submitted to the Kaohsiung District Court, it was determined that orders to kill the men broadcast over a loudspeaker had been given by Wang.

The High Court Kaohsiung Branch yesterday upheld the original sentence of 26 years for homicide handed down by the Kaohsiung District Court. The case is still appealable to the Supreme Court.

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