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Fiji Time: 9:37 PM on Thursday 18 September

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Missing fisherman report with police

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

POLICE yesterday confirmed receiving a report about a Fijian man lost at sea in Tahitian waters.

Andre Are Naoneata, 27, of Marata Village in Wailoku, believes there is more to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his younger brother Tomu Koimola on January 9.

Mr Naoneata, Koimola and his 34-year-old namesake were on board the Chinese fishing vessel Lurong Yuen Yu 205 which left Fiji on December 20 last year.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said they were awaiting word from the agents of the fishing vessel on when the vessel would visit Fiji next.

"I can confirm the report was lodged at the Central Division," Ms Naisoro said.

"The incident is alleged to have happened on high seas, specifically in Tahitian waters.

"We are liaising with the agents of the vessel to determine the date of arrival into Fiji so we can conduct the investigation."

This newspaper asked Ms Naisoro what were some steps considered in case the fishing vessel did not make any future trips to Fiji.

Ms Naisoro declined to comment, stating it could affect the investigation.

"As of now we are yet to receive a response on our request, so I wouldn't want to comment on that issue as it may affect investigations," she said.

Mr Naoneata said upon arrival in Suva on March 1, he headed straight to the Central Police Station to lodge a report.

"I was surprised that when I told the officer there that I wanted to lodge a report, he told me there was already a report of the same accident made by the captain of the boat.

"I'm trying to figure out how the captain lodged the report because the boat never came to Fiji — the captain just transferred us to another boat that was heading to Fiji and asked us not to speak of any of the things that happened to the captain of the boat that was to bring us to Fiji."

Mr Naoneata said he was given a letter by the captain of Lurong Yuen Yu 205 to hand deliver to the skipper of the Rong Dayang 17 — the fishing vessel that brought the two men back to Fiji.

"The letter was in Chinese, all I could make out was my brother's name on the letter," he said.

Zhong Fei Shipping Agencies director John Lee said they would not comment on the issue as investigations were in progress.

"All I can say now is that the vessel is owned by a Chinese company and it's not a subsidiary of Zhong Fei Agencies," Mr Lee said.

"We have reported the matter to the Ministry of Labour and the police and will not be making any further statements."

Labour Minister Jone Usamate said the matter was being addressed.

"Our officers are working on this matter," he said.

"We will be in a position to provide further information later."


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