A Taiwanese container ship whose officers are accused of tossing three Romanian stowaways overboard on the high seas has been given the go-ahead to leave Halifax.
The vessel Dubai received permission to leave after federal justice officials determined Canada has no jurisdiction over the case because the alleged murders occurred in international waters.
A fourth stowaway on the Dubai survived when eight members of the Filipino crew hid him and fed him.
Those crew members said they were ordered to make a makeshift raft out of an oil drum for two Romanians discovered in a compartment on March 12, a day after leaving the port of Algeciras, Spain, for Halifax.
The last they saw of the two men, they were adrift about 30 miles from land.
The crew members said they were afraid to report the incident and kept their secret until a third Romanian was found and disappeared off the deck May 18.
When they found a fourth stowaway, they hid him and fed him at night. He was turned over to the Immigration Department on Friday.
The crew members said they took their story to the media in Halifax after their lawyer told them the officers would not be charged. They are now seeking either refugee status or political asylum, and do not plan to rejoin the Dubai.
“It’s a travesty of justice,” said John Parsons of the International Transport Federation, an organization that fights for seafarers’ rights. “We’re telling them the next time they toss five or 10 people or a container full of people over the side, who cares?”
Police went to the Dubai when it arrived in Halifax late Friday and interviewed the eight crewmen.
But federal officials ruled Sunday that local police don’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute.
Sgt. Bill Price of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the country of a boat’s registration - in this case Taiwan - has jurisdiction when a crime allegedly occurs in international waters. He said Taiwanese authorities had been notified of the incident, but “we don’t know what they’ll do.”
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