News

Critical death ship recordings deleted, court told

AUDIO recordings on board the so-called "death ship" where three crew members died or disappeared within six weeks were most likely deliberately deleted, a coronial inquest has been told.

And the shipping company's executive director failed to tell Japanese authorities there could be a link between the fatalities.

The Sydney inquest into chief cook Cesar Llanto's disappearance and the death of chief engineer Hector Collado on one of the world's largest coal ships, Sage Sagittarius, has heard it was "very likely" crucial audio recordings from the ship's voyage data recorder had been tampered with or deleted.

In less than two months, three seafarers were killed while working aboard the Japanese-owned Sage Sagittarius, earning it the label of "death ship" by international welfare groups
In less than two months, three seafarers were killed while working aboard the Japanese-owned Sage Sagittarius, earning it the label of "death ship" by international welfare groups

Mr Llanto, 42, disappeared overboard off Cairns on August 30, 2012.

Mr Collado, 55, died a fortnight later after plummeting 12 storeys down an engineering shaft when the ship was moored at the Port of Newcastle.

Superintendent Kosaku Monji, whose death is not being investigated, was sent to the ship to calm down the terrified crew.

But all the crew except one flew back to their respective homes before Australian Federal Police and NSW Police officers could learn much through interviews.

Mr Monji began his own internal audit of the deaths, but it was cut short when his body was found crushed and mangled in a conveyor belt on October 6 when the ship was in Japan - outside the NSW Coroner's jurisdiction.

The three men died or disappeared within a 37-day period.

Despite the possible links, Japanese Coast Guard and Japanese Transport Safety Board investigating Mr Monji's death were not told of the other two men.

The shipping company's executive director Shigeto Yoshimura appeared before the Coroner via video link from Japan, with a court-appointed interpreter translating from the courtroom.

"I don't think there is any sort of relationship amongst these three deaths," Mr Yoshimura said.

Counsel assisting the Coroner Phillip Strickland asked if it was up to the investigating bodies to decide whether possible links were relevant, not Mr Yoshimura.

"Is it the case that you didn't want the Japanese Coast Guard or the Japanese Transport Safety Board to know about the disappearance of the chief cook and the death of the chief engineer?" Mr Strickland asked.

Mr Yoshimura conceded he did not report the other deaths "probably because I did not want to delay the operation of the ship".

The inquest, which has been running since 2014, had already heard the ship's captain, Venancio Salas, had been accused of bullying and physically assaulting the crew and illegally selling guns.

Mark Sanders, who spent 23 years in the navy and specialises in voyage data recorders, testified he believed audio recordings from the days Mr Collado and Mr Llanto died had been deliberately deleted.

Topics:  cesar llanto clinton towers death ship hector collado mark sanders sage sagittarius shigeto yoshimura suspicious death


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Ballina koalas faced with extinction

Ballina's koalas are under threat.

About 36,000 koalas left in NSW face an uncertain future

An emotional Mike Baird: 'There was great personal cost'

"After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived."

Surfer calls for second shark net off one coastal town

SIGNS OF SUPPORT: Young protesters make their opinions clear at a rally in support of shark nets at Ballina last November. More than 500 people attended the event calling for the immediate installation of the nets. PHOTO: ALINA RYLKO/ THE NORTHERN STAR

Kids surfing near the Lennox Hotel are at risk of shark encounters

Local Partners

41-year-old playgroup under threat of closing down

IT'S been an important part of the Ballina community for decades, but this playgroup could be forced to shut its doors.

See turtles up close on rescue centre tour

SPLASH: This green sea turtle, held by Australian Seabird Rescue general manager Kath Southwell, splashed some of the children on a tour of seabird rescue's headquarters.

The turtles don't mind giving the tour groups a splash, too

Shrek on stage

POPULAR MUSICAL: Shrek (River Fullagar) interrupts the wedding, shocking Fiona (Hillary Goodsell), the Bishop (Grace Pateman) and a furious Farquaad (Lachlan McGeary) in the Ballina Players' latest production.

The best-known green ogre is the star in Ballina Players production

Humble Cortina expected to shine at show

BOYS TOYS: Members of the North Coast Street Machines (from left) Errol Beaumont, Steven Fitness, Les Eckersley and John Stanford are ready for this Sunday's show and shine in Ballina, with their vehicles (from left) 1964 EH Holden, 1962 S Series Valiant, 1934 Ford, 1969 XW GT Falcon and a 1974 L Cortina.

There aren't many who can say they own thefirst car they bought

Matthew McConaughey wrongly used as medical example

Doctor tried to steal credit for McConaughey's hair treatment

J.K. Rowling writes through severe back pain

An aching back couldn't stop J.K. Rowling catching inspiration

Elsa voice actor's son hates Frozen

Idina Menzel's son "hates" his mother's most famous film 'Frozen'

Chrissy Teigen likes her "soft" stretch marks

Stretch marks are no problem for Chrissy Teigen

Naomie Harris in the dark over Daniel Craig's future as 007

Naomie Harris has no idea if Daniel Craig will be returning as 007

REVIEW: Will Kasey Chambers' Dragonfly take off with fans?

Kasey Chambers’ new album Dragonfly gets 3.5 stars from Cameron Adams.

CHAMBERS is back with her 11th studio album.

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

INTERACTIVE MAP: Which Northern Rivers towns boomed in 2016?

BOOM TOWNS: While Ballina properties continued to attract top dollar in 2016, it was areas to the south that experienced price hikes, including Wardell, Evans Head and Woodburn.

Click on our map to find the median sale price in your town

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!