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Stowaways Allegedly Set Adrift

Shipping: Canadian police arrest Taiwanese ship's captain. Three Romanians were said to have been cut loose on rafts in high seas.

May 30, 1996| From Reuters

HALIFAX, Canada — Police on Wednesday stormed a Taiwanese ship and arrested the captain, who has been accused along with his officers of setting adrift three Romanian stowaways while on the high seas, government officials said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police boarded the Maersk Dubai to arrest the captain after he refused to leave the vessel and come down to the Halifax dock to meet authorities.

The action came after Romania called on Canada to arrest and extradite the captain and six officers of the container ship anchored in the Nova Scotian harbor, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said.

Eight Filipino crewmen deserted the ship on Friday and told a harrowing tale of the ship's officers setting two Romanian stowaways adrift March 12 on an oil-drum raft in waters off Spain.

Later in the voyage, a third stowaway was set adrift in another raft in the mid-Atlantic, the crew said.

Crew members said they hid and fed another Romanian stowaway, who according to Romanian and Canadian authorities is now seeking asylum in Canada.

A ninth crewman, a Taiwanese radio operator, jumped off the ship Tuesday and was picked up from the frigid harbor waters by the Canadian coast guard.

In Bucharest, the Romanian Foreign Ministry said it was sending a prosecutor and police officers to join Canadian inquiries into the Filipino crewmen's claims.

There has been some concern that the Romanians were cast adrift so that the ship could avoid paying a fine of $5,090 per person imposed by Canada on any illegal immigrants brought into the country.

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