Indonesian navy detains captain, condemns bribery and betrayal

MANILA, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Troubled by mosquitoes at night and looted by monkeys by day, Captain Glenn Madoginog was held at an Indonesian naval base for several months before finally being held In a cramped cell, he slept with the convicted murderer and child rapist.

According to more than a dozen people involved, including the captain, shipowners, intermediaries and insurance companies.

Once owners made unofficial payments of $300,000 to $400,000 to naval intermediaries, most of the captains were released after a few weeks, the people said.

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But Madogino, 47, said his company refused, so he and his ship, the 20-year-old Seaways Rubymar tanker, remained captive on the Indonesian island of Batam, 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Singapore. base.

After a six-month wait, Madoginog was sentenced to 60 days in prison in March, and his once-proud captain’s life was torn apart when he was put in a crowded, cockroach-infested cell.

“The last few months have been the worst of my life,” Madoginog told Reuters from his apartment in the Philippine capital Manila, where he returned in May.

“I feel hopeless. I feel ashamed.”

U.S. company International Seaways (INSW.N), one of the world’s largest tanker operators and owner of the Seaways Rubymar when it was seized, said it had taken all legal steps to get Madoginog and the vessel free.

“As a policy, we do not take bribes,” it said in an emailed response to Reuters, adding that it was doing everything possible to improve Madoginog’s condition in custody and continued to serve him and his family Provide financial and medical support.

Seaways Rubymar has been deprecated.

Dozens of ships waiting to enter Singapore were seized by the Indonesian navy last year for illegally mooring in its waters, most of which were released after unofficial payments from ship owners, Reuters reported.

The waters east of Singapore have been used for decades by ships waiting to enter the city-state, but the Indonesian navy has cracked down on ships it says are anchored in its territory but do not pay port fees.

The Indonesian navy said it never asked for or received money to release ships. Detention is handled through the courts, and if there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, the ship is released, a Navy spokesman said.

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The Navy did not respond to a request for further comment on this report.

However, spokesman Julius Vijoyono told Reuters this month that the naval commander was sending an investigative team to Batam, without giving further details or a time frame.

Indonesian Navy has been arresting vessels illegally anchored in its waters near East OPL

“It’s pirated”

Four captains said they believed they were held for ransom in an organized extortion scheme run by members of the Navy, Reuters previously reported.

David Ledoux, an American who captained the fiber-optic cable laying vessel Reliance when he was arrested last year, said he escaped jail after the owner paid unofficial payments to free him.

“This is piracy in its simplest form: arrest the ship, arrest the captain, hold the company for ransom, collect the money,” Ledoux told Reuters from his home in New Bern, North Carolina. He also accused members of the Navy of orchestrating the attack. plan.

Reuters could not determine how much was paid for the release of the ship, or when.

Reliance’s owner SubCom, a New Jersey-based submarine cable company, did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta told Reuters it was aware of the ships being detained and paid to “parties purporting to represent the Indonesian Navy.”

“Ships should exercise caution when navigating these waters,” a U.S. official said, without answering further questions.

An alternative to paying the middlemen who work on behalf of the Navy is to wait for the case to go to court, which can leave ships idle for months and potentially expose shipowners to more revenue for vessels they can charter for tens of thousands of dollars. Lost days.

Ledoux, 57, questioned why shipowners and the government had not done more to raise awareness of the problem.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN agency responsible for shipping safety, said it was investigating the concerns raised by its members but had not received a request to investigate the issue.

Reliance arrested by Indonesian navy last year, owner released after paying unofficial payments

international waters

The area where the vessel was detained was more than 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from Indonesia’s main coastline, the standard distance for international waters under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The captains said the Reliance and Seaways Rubymar were anchored in the area, East OPL (outside the port).

However, ship insurers and a maritime lawyer say Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, can demarcate territorial waters around uninhabited islands or dry coral reefs, which could mean captains mistakenly believe they in international waters.

“That’s why people get caught,” said Stephen Askins, a London maritime lawyer.

However, Ledoux said Ben Line, SubCom’s agent in Singapore, told him where to park. Madoginog said his anchorage location had been approved by V-Ships, the London-based company that manages his tanker, but gave no evidence.

Ben Line has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, but has not addressed the anchorage issue. V-Ships did not respond to a request for comment.

12 people involved in the deal told Reuters that Ledoux and most of the captains detained by the Navy were released within weeks of the owner’s payment.

When Ledoux was released on October 28, he sailed the Reliance to Singapore for repairs.

After the repairs were completed, Scott Winfield, SubCom’s director of fleet operations, called him, saying his tone had changed from compassionate to hostile.

“He said, ‘Top management wants some ass, it’s going to be yours,’ so you’re going to be demoted,” said Ledoux, who lost his temper and resigned.

Winfield and SubCom did not respond to requests for comment.

Madogjinog said he was detained on Sept. 16 last year during a dawn raid by naval officers. He said they told him to sail to Batam and go ashore to sign the port clearance papers — which only took a few hours.

When he arrived, he was placed by police in a dark, stuffy room with nothing but an uncovered bed and a dirty squat toilet. An officer asked for his boat owner’s phone number and left.

“No pillows, no sheets, no air conditioning, no fans, nothing,” Madoginog said, adding that he had counted 27 other captains in similar rooms.

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Madoginog and Ledoux struck up a friendship, washing clothes and burning trash together in the yard outside their room, keeping an eye out for long-tailed macaques ready to charge anyone with food.

Path of ship released after being detained by Indonesian navy near Singapore

“They left me behind”

He said Buana Saka Samudera, the Indonesian agent for International Seaways, provided him with food, bedding and air conditioning units in his room at the base, which eventually allowed him to get himself in prison. cells and better food.

Buana Saka Samudera did not respond to a request for comment.

Madogjinog said he is currently out of work and is being treated for depression after the ordeal.

They told Reuters that other captains had also been upgraded by local agents paid by the shipowners to have their rooms at the Batam base. After the captain’s release, Navy personnel sometimes move into refurbished quarters, Madoginogue and Ledoux said.

Madoginog said he remained at the base until mid-November, when Navy officials returned him and the other captains to their ship after Reuters reported the arrest.

A spokesman for the Indonesian navy did not respond to a request for comment.

Court documents show Madogjinog remained on the ship at the Batam base until he was convicted of illegal mooring in March and sentenced to two months in prison.

He said he did not understand what prosecutors, judges or his interpreters were saying, and was unable to testify at several court hearings.

Reuters did not see what evidence was presented at the trial to prove the boat was in Indonesian waters.

Batam District Court spokesman Edy Sameaputty said the trial was conducted under the relevant criminal law and Madoginog had been granted the right to a defence.

When he was released, Madoginog’s boat and crew were gone, and no one from the company came to pick him up.

“They left me behind,” he said.

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Reporting by Joe Bullock; Additional reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in New Bern, Adrian Portugal and Eloisa Lopez in Manila and Yuddy Cahya Budiman in Jakarta; Editing by David Clark

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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