Vietnamese police are verifying the authenticity of a case in which sailors of the oil tanker Sunrise 689 declared that their ship had been seized by pirates for six days before being released on October 9.
The clarification is underway amid suspicion over whether an act of piracy actually occurred, or if it was staged.
The tanker, with 18 crewmembers on board, returned to the coastal southern city of Vung Tau on October 11 after being hijacked and released by pirates, according to the ship‚Äôs captain, Nguyen Quyet Thang, and his men.
According to a report from Thang, the hijacking took place on October 2 while the ship was transporting 5,226 tons of oil from Singapore to the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri.
An investigation into the reported hijacking has been launched, and investigators had yet to reach a conclusion on the issue by Monday afternoon, Colonel Tran Cong Hieu, Commander of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Border Guard, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Initial results of the investigation showed that there are signs that criminal acts took place on the ship, but four issues remain unclear, Colonel Hieu said.
First, there is inconsistency among the statements given by crewmembers on the reported hijacking. This may be the result of the unstable psychological state of the sailors, the official said.
Secondly, the exact location of the hijacking has not been determined.
Thirdly, details related to the oil carried by the tanker remain unconfirmed. This is necessary to determine whether the actual oil matches the oil specified in the bill of landing for the goods.
And the last issue of what the pirates took from the sailors has yet to be determined specifically, Colonel Hieu said.
Since these questions remain, police have yet to allow the Sunrise 689 to leave Vung Tau for Quang Tri,¬† the official said.
Captain rejects staging rumors
Meanwhile, in an interview with Tuoi Tre on Monday morning, captain Thang rejected a rumor that the hijacking was staged by sailors in order to steal oil.
‚ÄúI heard about such suspicions yesterday‚Ä¶ People can think as they like, but the truth will be proved by police. Through an investigation, police will clarify everything. Many other ships have been hijacked pirated in the same area,‚Äù Thang said.
The captain added, ‚ÄúI would tell police the full truth. There is the scene of the hijacking‚Ä¶ The staging is not possible. My crewmembers and I would never risk our career by staging a hijacking.‚Äù
Regarding the loss of about 2,000 tons of oil to the pirates, the captain said if he and other sailors had not strongly resisted the hijackers, they would have taken all 5,226 tons of oil on board.
Nguyen Vu Diep, a representative of the ship‚Äôs owner, the Hai Phong Fishery Ship Building Joint Stock Company, also rejected the rumor of a staged attack, VTC News reported.
‚ÄúPeople say we have staged the hijacking to steal oil. We would never be so stupid as to do such a thing,‚Äù VTC News quoted Diep as saying.
Machinist Luong Dai Thanh, 52, one of two sailors who were injured during the hijacking, was transferred from Vung Tau to Hanoi for an operation on his broken knee and toe, Diep said.
The other, Tran Van Lich, 28, has recovered from leg injuries, he added.