Vietnam probes illegal entry into Australia on fishing boat

By Hoang Tao   November 21, 2018 | 10:08 am GMT+7

17 Vietnamese citizens who reached Australia after 29 days at sea were caught and deported. Two of them are in custody.

The central province of Quang Binh detained Tran Ngoc Chau, 49, and Nguyen Trung Kien, 39, on Monday, while placing Pham The Nhan, 35, under house arrest, pending investigation for "organizing and/or coercing other persons to flee abroad," a crime punished by up to 20 years in Vietnam.

In June, Chau and Kien devised plans to go to Australia and do business there. They met up with Pham The Nhan, owner of a fishing boat, and struck a deal to buy the boat for VND1.7 billion ($73,128), and persuaded him to join the enterprise.

Tran Ngoc Chau is questioned by investigators. Photo courtesy of Quang Binh Police Province

Tran Ngoc Chau is questioned by investigators. Photo courtesy of Quang Binh Police Province

Another 14 people, between 24 to 46 years of age, residents of Quang Binh, also joined the trip.

On July 29, the group of 17 departed from Da Nang port, 330 kilometers (205 miles) to the south, on a fishing boat. Along the way, Kien and Chau announced the trip would cost VND150 million ($6,451) per person. The price included VND800 million for travel expenses.

After 29 days at sea, on August 26, when the boat was about 100 meters away from mainland Australia, the group abandoned the fishing vessel, got into two smaller rescue boats and paddled their way ashore. It has been reported that the vessel was destroyed to conceal evidence.

However, they were discovered and deported by Australian authorities.

Tran Ngoc Chau fled custody as soon as he arrived in Vietnam, but was apprehended again by Quang Binh authorities on November 17 in Thua Thien Hue Province.

Further details of the trip and subsequent developments have not been revealed.

 
 
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