The Sage Sagittarius vessel was raided 13 times by Australia’s Customs and Border Protection officials during the 3-year time period preceding the suspicious killing of its crew. Four members of the vessel’s crew, including the captain, have been flagged on a boarder protection database.
The program inquires into the mystery surrounding the vessel, which itself has been given the label ship of death, trying to reveal details about the 2012 voyage when the deaths took place, by using the crew’s very own accounts. Australia’s Customs Service refused to give any comments regarding the possible reasons it inquired into the vessel, but it said it employed a risk-based approach towards detecting illegal activities, and clearance activities aboard the vessel were strictly routine ones.
Michael Squires, who is a former Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigator, and who was called upon by Four Corners in order to examine the gathered evidence, commented that the attention displayed by the Customs Service may mean that something was potentially amiss aboard the ship. The deaths occurred over a period of six weeks during one of the regular coal routes of the vessel between the southern Japan-based Kudamatsu port city and New South Wales’ port of Newcastle.
The 1st death took place approximately 840 km off Queensland’s coast, on August 30th, 2012 when Cesar Llanto, a 42-year-old chief cook, disappeared.
The 2nd death respectively took place after two weeks, when Hector Collado, a 55-year old chief engineer plummeted 12 meters down an engineering shaft after receiving a blow to the back of his head.
The 3rd death was that of Kosaku Monji, a 37-year old superintendent at the vessel’s Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line operator. On October 6th, 2012, he was entangled and subsequently crushed by the ship’s enormous unloading rollers while the vessel was at port in Japan.
Video: Maritime Union of Australia