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Indonesia nabs 2 Chinese boats, dead Indonesian crewman found aboard

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi speaks during a virtual press conference in Jakarta on July 10, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Kyodo)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- The Indonesian authorities have seized two Chinese fishing boats, one carrying the dead body of an Indonesian crew member, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Friday.

    Retno told a press conference that coast guard, police and navy personnel chased after the two boats Wednesday after receiving a report that one of them was carrying the dead crewman.

    The boats -- Lu Huang Yuan Yu 117 and Lu Huang Yuan Yu 118 -- were "stopped while they were still in Indonesia's territorial waters" and "then dragged to a military base" on Batam Island, near Singapore, for further investigation, she said.

    She said the 21 other Indonesian crew members might have also been exploited by the Chinese company owning the boats and subjected to bad working conditions.

    The minister did not go into detail, but nongovernmental organization Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia said the sailorman who died fell sick after having been kicked in the chest by one of the boats' Chinese captains.

    "He didn't get any food while sick and (then) only received bread and milk after he was in critical condition," Laode Hardiani, field coordinator of the organization, said in a press statement, quoting witnesses.

    The Indonesian crew members were recruited by an Indonesian company providing sailormen for the Chinese fishing boats.

    Three executives of that company were detained by police in May in connection with the deaths of four seamen and the labor exploitation of dozens of others working on Chinese fishing boats.

    Their case was revealed to the public after South Korean media reports quoted crew members as complaining they had to work 18 hours a day and were treated worse than Chinese crew members.

    They were also paid only a tenth of the $300 per month they were entitled to receive under their work contracts.

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