Sage Sagittarius
Sage Sagittarius

Deaths on 'murder ship' need a coronial inquest

THE man who first named the Sage Sagittarius "the death or murder ship" in late 2012 believes the three deaths on board are "screaming out" for a coronial inquest.

The International Transport Workers' Federation is an "interested party" as New South Wales Deputy Coroner Sharon Freund considers ordering an inquest.

ITF Australia coordinator Dean Summers said only by looking at all the international findings was there any hope of justice.

Investigations have already been undertaken by the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police, Panama Maritime Authority and, in part, by the Australian Transport Safety Board.


Japanese authorities examined the third death which occurred at a port in the country's south.

Mr Summers said the Panama report - done because the Japanese ship is registered with the small South American nation - "almost offered up excuses".

Ships register with developing countries like Panama often in an effort to avoid scrutiny.

Mr Summers said in his career, he had never seen such a string of fatalities on a single ship without an explosion or a sinking.

"An inquest must be taken on these three fatalities," Mr Summers said.

"All the information we've heard, all the snippets and innuendo - it's screaming out for an inquest."


SUPREME Court solicitor turned Opposition MP Graham Perrett has described "an odour of cover-up" in how the owners of the Sage Sagittarius have behaved towards investigators

Mr Perrett led the federal inquiry into the death of Dianne Brimble, who disappeared while aboard a foreign-owned cruise ship.

In the report by the Panama Maritime Authority, the company refused to discuss the deaths because it feared "creating rumours and gossip around the maritime world".

Mr Perrett said 21 months after the deaths began, the investigation had been "stymied" with so many key witnesses now scattered throughout the world's shipping channels.

"It's got the odour of a cover-up doesn't it," Mr Perrett said.

"Imagine in a normal investigative process for someone to say that. Any investigator's antennae would be on high alert, that's for sure."


THE former Federal Minister who led enormous changes to the national shipping industry more than 20 years ago is warning Australia's world standing on maritime justice could be at risk if there is no action on the Sage Sagittarius.

Hawke-era Transport Minister Peter Morris headed the national Ships of Shame inquiry in 1992, and later the International Commission on Shipping which published the landmark Ships, Slaves and Competition report in 2001.

He said on the evidence available, "something is happening on that ship".

"If someone is in illegal operations, others would know about it and would be party to it," he said.

Ship owners NYK line and managers Hachiuma Steamship maintain there is nothing suspicious about the deaths, which occurred in late 2012.

Mr Morris said Australia had a reputation in the maritime world as a country of justice, which must be upheld.

"If murder was involved, how could it occur in the Port of Newcastle, in an Australian port, and go uninvestigated with no action taken to deal with the people responsible?

"There should be a thorough-going investigation on what took place and what is happening."


Aug 30, 2012: Filipino chief cook Cesar Llanto, 42, vanished overboard 800km north-west of Cairns. Crew members claim he was reporting abuse suffered by a fellow seafarer. Investigators found no way he could fall overboard. Ship diverted to Port Kembla for investigation.

Sept 1, 2012: Two security guards from Brisbane are sent to the ship.

Sept 14, 2012: Filipino chief engineer Hector Collado, 57, falls more than 10m to his death while the ship was docked at the Port of Newcastle.

Sept 18, 2012: Entire crew aboard Sage Sagittarius replaced. Japanese safety superintendent Kosaku Monji, 37, joins ship to ensure crew protection.

Oct 6, 2012: Monji, 37, crushed to death by conveyor belt machinery in Japan.

Jan 5, 2013: Panama Maritime Authority begins investigation.

Sep 19, 2013: Panama publishes confidential report into three deaths.

Sep 27, 2013: Japanese Transport Safety Board publishes report into Mr Monji's death.

Jan 10, 2014: Sagittarius managers Hachiuma Steamship say it has "no idea" how the deaths occurred. Would later say there is no reason to consider deaths suspicious.

Jun 16, 2014: NSW Coroner to consider an inquest into Mr Llanto and Mr Collado's deaths in Australian waters.

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