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Fishing boat captain accused of punching sailor for making a mistake

A fishing boat captain has been released on bail after he was charged with grievously injuring a sailor

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
28 July 2017, 2:59pm
Risky Sis Harmawan said he had been punched in the eye, head and chest by his captain for pulling a rope by mistake
Risky Sis Harmawan said he had been punched in the eye, head and chest by his captain for pulling a rope by mistake
A fishing boat captain has been released on bail after he was charged with grievously injuring an Indonesian sailor in what a court was told was an attack sparked by a mistake on the part of the sailor.

The 42-year-old captain of the fishing vessel “All Saints,” Jason Genovese appeared before duty magistrate Audrey Demicoli this morning on charges of grievously injuring Risky Sis Harmawan, causing him to fear that he would suffer violence and relapsing.

Testifying through a translator, Harmawan said that on 6 July, he had been punched in the eye, head and chest by his captain for pulling a rope by mistake.

“I was doing my job on the boat and then suddenly he came and punched me.” The captain had then poured water over him, he said.

Asked what had triggered the incident, he replied “because I made a mistake in pulling a rope.”

The captain had made sarcastic remarks about him in early July but this was the first time that he had turned aggressive, he said.

“I could not see anything from my eye. Between 7 and 11 July I was forced to keep working on the boat.”

After the boat docked Harmawan said he had continued to work, cleaning the boat and transferring the catch to a truck before he was taken to St James hospital on 12 July by the captain.

He had returned to the boat in Marsaskala, he said, because the captain kept asking him to work, but because he had been threatened, he left the boat to seek protection, fearing Genovese would punch him again.

Harmawan ended up in homeless shelter Dar Papa Frangisku, after an Indonesian friend had suggested he try seek shelter there.

Cross-examined by defence counsel legal procurator Peter Paul Zammit, he said he had come to Malta after being offered a job as a fisherman by Genovese.

He had been working as a fisherman in Indonesia for six months before landing a job in Malta through an agency, Harmawan said.

Asked how he communicated with Genovese, Harmawan said that he knew a little English and the captain spoke to him in Maltese and English.

He hadn’t gone to the police on the same day he left the boat because he didn’t know where the police station was. “I didn’t ask where the police station was because I didn’t speak English and didn’t want a misunderstanding. I was informed by my friends that there are many Indonesian fishermen in Marsaxlokk.”

The defence suggested that his employment contract forbade him from leaving the boat. “Actually from the contract I was not really sure whether I should live on the boat because I don’t understand English well, but my friends told me I had to stay on the boat,” Harmawan replied.

The Indonesian embassy had instructed him to refer his case to the police.

The lawyer suggested that the person who recommended that that he talk to the embassy was the wife of the owner of the boat. He didn’t know the owner of the boat or his wife, he said.

A request that the court appoint a medical expert to ascertain the nature of his alleged injuries and whether they were compatible with his story was upheld.

The prosecution did not object to the defence’s request for bail, but asked that the court order the man to inform the police before setting out to sea.

Genovese was released on bail against a deposit of €1,000 and personal guarantee of €2,000.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...