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Indonesian investigators have confirmed two members of a recruiting agency are being held after the bodies of three sailors were moved from a Chinese-flagged boat near the Island of Batam. Chief investigator Arie Dharmanto said an agency hired three local fishermen to pick up the corpses of the men who died at sea after being promised cash.
The incident took place on board the The Fu Yuan Yu 829 boat and the bodies were discovered on Wednesday.
Mr Dharmanto said: “The Fu Yuan Yu 829 did not dare dock, but instead contacted a recruiting agency to pick up the bodies.
“We have arrested the two suspects, ‘J’ the director, and ‘E’ the manager.
“This case is still being investigated.”
According to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry at least 16 crew members have died on board Chinese boats since last year.
Earlier this month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi confirmed four Indonesian crew members died on Chinese-flagged boats between May and June.
Officials say many of the workers who have died had their bodies tossed into the sea.
Activists claim some of the sailors, who often carry no documentation, are made to work in appalling conditions.
The alleged incidents began to emerge late last year after a South Korean television station showed video footage of one of the bodies being thrown overboard.
In an interview, an Indonesian crew member claimed he and others were sometimes forced to work 30 straight hours.
He said they were also only given six hours to eat and sleep before resuming their duties.
Mohammad Abdi Suhufan, coordinator of the Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia, called for more to be done to ensure the safety of fishermen.
He said: “The government’s efforts were not optimal.
“There is no data collection, guidance for agents, or evaluations.”
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He added the lack of job opportunities resulted in young men being forced to work abroad.
Judha Nugraha, the foreign ministry’s director for protection of Indonesians overseas, has confirmed an investigation remains ongoing and have called on the Chinese Government to take action.
He said: “Indonesia is still waiting for the results of the investigation.”
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