Filipino indicted for murder after 8 die on Taiwanese fishing boat

Filipino indicted for homicide by Taiwan prosecutors after deaths of 8 fishermen

Fronda (center).

Fronda (center). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Filipino fishery worker was indicted on Friday (July 12) for murder after a killing spree on the high seas resulted in the death of eight members of a fishing vessel.

The fisherman has been identified as Aurelio Fronda and is alleged to have fatally knifed two crew members and wounded two other fishermen aboard the Wen Peng (穩鵬號). Fronda was the chief officer on the ship, which is registered in Pingtung County’s Donggang township.

After the two crewmen were fatally stabbed and another two were wounded, eight more fishery workers jumped overboard to escape the attack, according to Manila and Economic Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Angelito Tan Banayo. Only two of the eight who jumped overboard were rescued, leaving the remaining six lost and sea and presumably drowned.

The attack is said to have taken place at 3 a.m. on Feb. 20, approximately 1,540 nautical miles from Port Louis, Mauritius. The ship had a crew of 24, including three Taiwanese, 10 Filipinos, and 11 Indonesians, according to the Taiwan Fisheries Agency.

Fronda. (CNA photo)

MECO officials were dispatched to provide translation and legal advice. Banayo said this assistance was provided to all nationals, in accordance with Philippine and Taiwan laws.

A Taiwan Fisheries Agency spokesperson was quoted as saying: “A fight broke out when the chief officer hacked two of his crew to death in a disciplinary action dispute."

Six crew members reportedly jumped overboard to flee the suspect, Aurelio Fronda. The five Indonesians and one Filipino, identified as Rizaldy Viernes, have not been seen since.

Wen Peng. (CNA image)

After arresting Fronda on March 2 and temporarily holding him on a nearby fishing vessel, special agents detained him on the vessel, Hsun Hu No. 8 (巡護八號), for the voyage back to Taiwan. Fronda and the vessel were brought to Kaohsiung on March 18, when the Pingtung District Prosecutor's Office began to investigate the case, according to the Coast Guard Administration.

On March 4, search and rescue operations to find the missing six crew members were halted. The victims' relatives were reported as saying they were frustrated at having to wait for information about their loved ones, with some reporting "no visible effort to locate missing victims."

After concluding their investigation, Prosecutors on Friday recommended that the suspect be handed a heavy sentence as he showed no mercy during his vicious assaults and refused to confess during questioning. Prosecutors then indicted Fronda on charges of homicide, attempted homicide, and abandonment of a corpse, reported CNA.