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Desertion at Sea

Captain of Ocean Express Dive Boat Being Tried for Negligent Homicide

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, Ocean Express, Yellow Scuba, Jaya Sentana, Miyata Ritsuko, Shoko Takahashi, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Augustinus Brata Kusuma
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Augustinus Brata Kusuma (30), the Captain of the MV Ocean Express is standing trial in Denpasar in connection with the death of two Japanese women near Nusa Penida during a diving expedition from his boat.

The diving boat captain is being charged under three counts of the criminal code for the negligent homicide of the two women.

Prosecutors have told the court how on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, the deaths happened in connection with the order for a ship transportation from Yellow Scuba (PT Jaya Sentana) to bring a group of five female Japanese divers to a dive spot near Nusa Penida island, off Bali's southeastern coast.

Augustinus and his crew were assigned by the owner of the Ocean Express to bring the divers on the desire dive trip.

"In the course of doing their dives, the Japanese were accompanied by two Japanese dive instructors Furokawa Saori and Shoko Rakahashi," the prosecutor told the Court.

He went on to explain that upon arriving at the desired dive spot at Manta Point on Nusa Penida, that was followed by a visit to a second dive spot at Crystal Bay. Each dive lasted for about 45 minutes. The group then moved on to a third dive site near the Sakenan mangrove at Nusa Lembongan where the Japanese dive instructor told the captain to meet the group at Blue Corner where they would re-emerge at the end of the dive.

Evidence presented to the court says the five divers and two instructors cut short their planned 45-minute dive to just 30-minutes when the group encountered strong underwater currents. The prosecutor continued, "When they resurfaced, the Captain failed in his responsibility to wait for the group of Japanese divers but had left the area to buy more fuel from a depot at Nusa Lembongan."

When the Japanese group of divers emerged on the surface,  the MV Ocean Express was nowhere to be seen. The women joined hands in order to remain united until the dive boat returned. At the same time, the two instructors inflated orange-colored "sausages" to increase their visibility in the rolling seas.

Staying afloat and holding on to each other throughout the night, one of the instructors, Furokawa Saora, tried without success to swim to a passing boat managing instead to make it a nearby shore late that afternoon.

The remaining six divers floated and hung on to each other for nearly 24-hours becoming separated by the incessant waves. Two divers - Miyata Ritsuko and instructor Shoko Takahashi went missing while the remaining four divers were eventually rescued by on February 16 and 17 by Search and Rescue officers from the Water Police.

Miyata Ritsuko's lifeless body was found near Serangan Island on February 18, 2014 while Shoko Takahashi's body was found one week later floating off the coast of East Java near Blitar.

The trial of Captain Agustinus Brata Kusuma continues in Denpasar. The Indonesian Captain is unable to afford a lawyer and is mounting his own defense in the case.

Related Articles

Missing Japanese Diver Found

Five Out of Seven Missing Divers Now Safe

A Failure to Reemerge

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