Faskuri boat hijacking: Captain was threatened with knife, no arrests made

Local fishermen out at sea | Photo: Rosie Magudia

L. Gan, Maldives – The crew members of the ‘Faskuri’ fishing vessel which was hijacked by a group of men armed with sharp weapons, have further detailed the ordeal they endured as they were forced to take the vessel to L. Gan as ordered by the hijackers.

Speaking to local media outlet ‘adduLIVE’ the crew have reported that the hijackers, who came on to the boat a little after midnight on Monday morning carrying knives and swords, demanding that they be shown the way to the captain of the boat. They then threatened the captain with a knife and ordered the boat, which was near the Vadinolhi area of Laamu Atoll at the time, to be turned around and enter the harbour of Gan island of the atoll.

“They came onto the boat with knives and swords, and we didn’t even know what was going on. They asked whether the captain was. The boat reached L. Gan as they continued to threaten [us] with knives” the crew member said.

Although the hijackers did not say much, according to the crew, it was apparent from their conversations that what they wanted was the boat.

It was further detailed that the hijackers are likely to have followed the boat after it came out of Maandhoo where they got the weight of the day’s catch noted. The crew said that the hijackers told them that the exact location of the ‘Faskuri’ boat was given to them by another fishing vessel in the area.

Local media outlet ‘Vaguthu’ reported that the ‘Faskuri’ boat originally belonged to an individual from L. Gan and that it was sold at the price of MVR 7 million two years back, on a monthly payment basis. The Individual from L. Gan who claims to be the owner of the vessel reportedly told the media outlet that the buyer failed to pay the price and that according to the contract, if two months of payments are missed, the owner had a right to take back the vessel, which he did.

The individual is also reported to have further explained that he only received MVR 700,000 of the total price at which the vessel was agreed. He also is reported to have denied that any of the hijackers who went on board the vessel would have carried weapons and that they simply wanted to take the vessel back in a civil manner as the boat was in the atoll where the actual owner of it is.

However, along with the crew members of the ‘Faskuri’ boat, Maldives Police Service has also confirmed that sharp edged weapons were present on the boat and that it has all been confiscated.

While the crew reported to ‘adduLIVE’ that they had contacted Meedhoo Police station requesting help, Maldives Police Service reported that they received information about the hijacking via Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF). By the time the vessel reached the harbor of L. Gan, Police were already there, however only took the weapons into police custody, and no the hijackers who came on to the boat with them.

Responding to a question by ‘The Times of Addu’ as to why the perpetrators were not arrested, Maldives Police Service said that no significant information was revealed with regards to the matter at the time of arresting. Police further detailed that the matter is being invesatigated.