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Fiji Time: 12:50 PM on Thursday 17 April

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Search for family link

Nasik Swami
Saturday, December 07, 2013

IN the hope of discovering more about the colourful history of his grandfather, an Australian tourist came to Fiji last week to find out more about his Fiji links.

Retired military officer Colin Skerritt, 68, who came to Suva on board the cruise liner Sea Princess visited the National Archives and The Fiji Times library in search of information and pictures of his grandfather, Frederick.

Mr Skerritt explained his grandfather was a seaman back in the 1900s and became part of a controversial journey when he left Peru on board the Nuevra Tigre bound for Fiji.

"My grandfather, who was a young seaman at that time, was a crew member on board the ship. He was accompanied by crewman Joseph Mortleman," Mr Skerritt said.

He said while the ship was on its way to Fiji, Mortleman killed some crewmen on board the ship.

"My grandfather took note of what happened on board the ship. He wrote everything in his diary."

He said his grandfather also informed the ship captain of the incident.

"After the ship reached Fiji, the captain informed the police and Mortleman was arrested in Suva."

Mr Skerritt said Mortleman's trial started in the High Court in Suva in 1909 where Frederick's diary was used as evidence to successfully prosecute Mortleman.

"I came to Fiji with my family to search for old documents and pictures of my grandfather so that we can join the pieces of information and put an end to his story."

He said Frederick died in 1972 while Mortleman, who was sentenced in Fiji, was later sent to Australia where he died.