The captain of the notorious Sage Sagittarius bulk carrier, Venancio Salas, took the stand for the first time today within a coronial inquest before the New South Wales Coroner Court in Australia.
The New South Wales Coroner Court launched an investigation into suspicious two of three deaths from 2012 on board what has now become known as the “death ship” in May 2015. The inquest resumed on Tuesday.
Salas was questioned over his whereabouts at the time of the disappearance of the ship’s chief cook Cesar Llanto on August 30, 2012, the Northern Star reports. Llanto went missing in April 2012 while the ship was en route in the Coral Sea.
The hearing today established that Capt Salas was on the ship’s deck at the time when the chief cook was last seen alive.
Llanto’s disappearance was followed by the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, who is believed to had fell from an 11-metre deck to a deck below while en route to New Castle.
A veil of mystery surrounds the two deaths, especially the disappearance of Mr Llanto, whose death has been treated as an alleged murder, according to Australian Federal Police.
This is further fueled by findings of the inquest from last year that heard of alleged foul play on board and attempted pay offs to the victims’ families.
The former captain of the ship had confessed to taking a commission for selling guns to crew members while on board the bulker and also admitted of being involved in physical confrontations with one of the ship’s crew member, Jessie Martinez.
World Maritime News Staff