Indonesian police have charged four more people suspected of torturing to death an Indonesian crew member who was later found in a freezer aboard a Chinese fishing vessel, authorities said on Monday.
A Chinese supervisor on the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118 fishing vessel was charged with the killing 20-year-old Hasan Apriadi and assaulting other Indonesian crew member working on the ship.
The latest people charged were executives at Indonesian recruitment agencies which hire locals to work on Chinese ships, the police said.
In all, six recruiting agency bosses are now facing human trafficking charges, including allegations that they lied to dozens of Indonesians placed aboard Chinese fishing vessels by saying that they would be working as waiters or staff in retail stores overseas.
“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 province.
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 exploited workers face non-payment, 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. (Source: The Straits Times)