Fiji police question rescued fishing boat crew over alleged beheading

Rescue of Tiro II crewman
A crewman of the Tiro II is rescued by members of the Fiji Navy rescue unit. Image: Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Three crew members from a Chinese-owned Fiji-flagged fishing vessel are being questioned by police after an alleged beheading at sea.

Six crew members from the vessel the FV Tiro II jumped overboard during the reported “violent incident” on Monday.

One person was  on board a liferaft, with the other five entering the water without lifejackets.

The man in the liferaft has been found, with the Fijian Rescue Coordination Centre releasing photos of the moment he was located on Wednesday.

The Chinese-owned, Fiji-flagged tuna longliner Tiro II was found on Wednesday by the Orion about 90 nautical miles west of Fiji, with two crew members still onboard.

The Fijian Rescue Coordination Center has also released photos of the two men found on board the vessel being handed over to police.

After taking on water Thursday night, Tiro II sank yesterday morning.

3 survivors questioned
Fiji Navy commander Captain Humphrey Tawake said all three survivors were now being spoken to by the police in Suva in relation to the violence on board the trawler.

He said the search was continuing for the other crewmembers.

“They’ve been in the water since Monday, so your survival in the water without any lifesaving equipment is drastically reduced. But we remain optimistic,” he said.

A Fiji Navy crewman hands over the survivors
A Fiji Navy crewman hands over the survivors found on board the FV Tiro II to Fiji police. Image: Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji/RNZ

Earlier, Captain Tawake told The Fiji Times newspaper they were aware of allegations that a Fijian national had beheaded a second Fijian national following a “heated argument”.

“However, we cannot comment on these allegations since police will carry out their own investigations to ascertain these claims,” he said.

“We are aware that part of the crew had jumped overboard while two remained on the vessel.”

An RNZAF Orion aircraft has also been helping in the search for the remaining five men.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

The RFNS Kikau departing for the search area
The RFNS Kikau departing for the search area on Wednesday night. Image: RFN/RNZ
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