Residents want justice over raid of ship that ran aground in Bequia
September 4, 2012
Residents want justice over raid of ship that ran aground in Bequia

Some residents of Bequia are calling for justice after some people, believed to be from that Grenadine island, boarded a Dominican vessel and stole items after it ran aground.{{more}}

Coastguard officials confirmed that on August 22, they received a distress call to rescue five persons from the vessel, after it had hit some rocks off the westernmost point of Bequia.

According to Lieutenant Deon Henry of the Coastguard, the call came in and they responded and subsequently transported the occupants to the mainland.

He explained that investigators from the Maritime Administration in Trinidad were brought in to investigate the circumstances surrounding the vessel running aground.

However, after the boat was left unoccupied, persons, who have not yet been identified, descended on to the vessel and looted whatever valuables they could find.

Herman Belmar, Deputy Director of Grenadines Affairs, confirmed the information saying that police are investigating the matter.

He said that although the vessel had been left on the rocks, it had not yet been declared a wreck.

“So, people had absolutely no right on board,” Belmar said.

“We are hoping that the persons will be brought to justice, because that is the only way that we will actually be able to stop this ongoing theft of people’s property,” he continued.

Whether the vessel had been abandoned or simply left there, no one had the right to venture on board, he told SEARCHLIGHT.

But he explained that the issue has been an ongoing problem on Bequia, going back to the 1970s, when a similar incident occurred, involving a French luxury cruise liner that had run aground off Mustique.

“From that time to now, it seems that people have developed an attitude that once a vessel runs aground, they have the right to go on there like it’s their own,” he said.

While it was not disclosed what items had been taken, Belmar said that the police are looking for the stolen property coming from the vessel.

An irate Belmar said that he could not condone any form of theft, at home or otherwise and that he wanted to see the perpetrators brought to justice.

“No one has the right interfering with another one’s property without permission … that is thieving and if you are a thief, then you should be brought to justice,” he said.

Belmar said that last tourism season was a very trying time for visitors coming in on boats to the Grenadines.

He said that one tourist, who is offended to the point where they would want to taint the image of the country, is one too many.

“So, we got to protect our interest,” Belmar said.

Investigations are ongoing. (DD)