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August 23, 2005 19:43 PM

Marine Police Detain Ship Believed Hijacked 3 Yrs Ago

JOHOR BAHARU, Aug 23 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian marine police Tuesday detained a Belize-registered merchant ship and arrested 20 Chinese crew including the captain on suspicion that the vessel was that of MV Natris reportedly hijacked and went missing three years ago.

Marine Police Commander SAC I Abdul Rahman Ahmad from the Bukit Aman police headquarters told reporters that the 567-tonne vessel "MV Paulijing" was stopped at 3.20 am in an operation involving the special operations force about 9 nautical miles off Kukup, Pontian.

Police believed that MV Paulijing, laden with soy beans and vinegar, was Panama-registered MV Natris that had been repainted as their shape, weight and other characteristics were the same, he said at the Southern Region Marine Police Headquarters in Tampoi.

MV Natris was reportedly hijacked and went missing in Batam waters, Indonesia on Nov 17, 2002.

Abdul Rahman said the marine police went into action to track down the vessel after being informed of its presence in Malaysian waters at about 9 am last Monday.

It was on its journey from Khandra, India to Ho Chi Minh port, Vietnam, and was spotted cruising at 10.8 knots in Port Klang waters at 10.30 am when the marine police ordered the captain to stop.

The captain refused to heed to the order and continued to head south, Abdul Rahman said.

At 3.20 am Tuesday, the special operations force and special marine unit managed to intercept and boarded the ship.

They did not face any resistance when rounding up the crew aged between 20 an 45, who had been taken to the Marine Headquarters in Tampoi for further investigations, Abdul Rahman said.

"No firearms were found during the search. The vessel is now docked at Tanjung Piai, Pontian for inspection," he said.

He said the police had contacted MV Natris owner to identify the ship with the help of the forensics unit.

-- BERNAMA

 

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