‘Death ship’ captain admits to gun running

In the second day of the inquest hearing before the New South Wales Coroner Court, the captain of what has been dubbed as the ‘death ship’ confessed to taking a commission for selling guns to crewmembers while on board the Panama-flagged coal carrier Sage Sagittarius.

Captain Venancio Salas also admitted being involved in physical confrontations with one of the ship’s crewmember, Jessie Martinez.

Salas is reported of bullying Martinez on several occasions and even resorting to physical violence, punching and slapping him in front of other crew members.

Initial reports indicate that one of the crew members that went missing from the ship in April, 2012, the vessel’s chief cook, Cesar Llanto, might have been planning to report the captain’s behavior to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Australia, according to local media reports.

However, shortly after, Llanto went missing under suspicious circumstances and is believed to have most probably fallen overboard from the ship.

The incident was followed by the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, who is believed to had fallen from an 11-metre deck to a deck below while en route to New Castle, whereas the third incident happened in October while the ship was unloading in Japan when a worker of the ship’s managing company, Hachiuma Steamship, was killed after being crushed in a conveyer belt.

All three death cases occurred in six months.

The court has launched an investigation into two of three deaths on board the Sage Sagittarius that occurred in Australian waters.

During the first day of the hearing, the court heard that the deaths might have been caused by foul play on board.

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