Another piracy victim: Engineer falls to death

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Another piracy victim: Engineer falls to death

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Kim Yong-hyun

Just two days after lowering anchor at Mombasa, Kenya, on Tuesday, the chief engineer of the Geummi 305 crabbing boat was found dead by hotel security personnel at 2:25 a.m. local time yesterday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The engineer, Kim Yong-hyun, 68, died after falling off the balcony of his hotel room, said an official, adding that a security guard heard him fall and, after rushing to the scene, found Kim dead.

Kim was one of two Koreans who were aboard the Geummi 305 when it was hijacked by Somali pirates four months ago. “We do not know at this point whether Kim’s death was a suicide or homicide,” said an official at the Foreign Ministry.

“Officials of the Korean Embassy in Kenya visited local police and requested they carry out a swift and fair investigation of the case,” the official said.

The official said that no personal notes were found at the hotel and that Korean officials were working to clarify details of Kim’s death.

Kim had dinner with the captain of the ship, Kim Dae-keun, the evening before he died, and the two had been staying in separate rooms at the hotel. The Foreign Ministry official said Kim had been “contemplating whether to return home or not” as the captain of the ship suggested that the two remain in Kenya and work together.

The Korean government is not aware of any financial troubles Kim might have had, said the Foreign Ministry source, and he had not shown any signs of depression. The two were working on the Geummi 305 as business partners, but Kim had not been paid his monthly wages by Kim Dae-keun. The captain had been unable to pay Kim as he was buried in debt.

The Koreans were released with the rest of the crew onboard the Geummi 305 last Wednesday, apparently without paying a ransom.

“I cannot believe that my father, whom I spoke to over the phone just a few days ago, is dead,” Kim Jin-gon, 41, the son of the engineer, told Yonhap News Agency.

The son said he found it suspicious that the Korean government made such a forceful request for a thorough investigation.

“I believe the government is hiding something,” he said.

“Just a few days ago, my father called me and said he was healthy and was coming back home. I don’t know what is what, as this happened just a few days after,” the son said.

Kim’s body is currently at Pandya Memorial Hospital in Kenya.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

겨우 풀려났는데 … 금미호 기관장 호텔 추락사
케냐 도착한 지 이틀 만에 숨져
“방에서 케냐인 1명과 다투는 소리”

외교통상부는 지난해 10월 소말리아 해적에 납치됐다가 124일 만에 풀려난 금미305호의 기관장 김용현(68)씨가 케냐 몸바사항의 한 호텔에서 떨어져 숨졌다고 17일 밝혔다. 외교부 당국자는 “김씨가 현지시간 17일 오전 2시25분쯤 머물고 있던 C호텔 4층 베란다에서 추락해 사망했다”며 “호텔 경비가 ‘쿵’ 소리를 듣고 건물 밖에 나가 보니 김씨가 숨져 있어 경찰에 신고했다”고 말했다. 현지 경찰은 김씨가 머물던 방에 케냐인 한 명이 함께 있었고 호텔에서 떨어지기 직전 두 사람이 다투는 소리를 들었다는 호텔 경비의 진술을 근거로 케냐인의 신병을 확보해 사건 경위를 파악하고 있다. 김씨의 시신은 현재 판디아 병원에 안치돼 있다. 김씨는 15일 금미305호가 몸바사항에 입항한 뒤 이 호텔에 투숙해 왔다.

 숨지기 전날 김씨는 몸바사항 선박 대리점의 김종규(58)씨 집에서 금미305호 선장 김대근(55)씨와 저녁을 함께 먹었다. 호텔에 돌아온 시간은 이날 오후 11시~자정 사이로, 숨진 김씨와 김 선장은 같은 호텔에 묵었지만 방은 따로 써왔다. 우울증 등의 가능성에 대해 외교부 당국자는 “케냐 대사관 직원 등이 면담한 결과 특별히 이상한 점을 발견할 수 없었다”며 “4개월간 납치됐던 점을 감안하면 무척 건강한 모습이었다”고 말했다.


 김씨는 배에서 내린 15일 피랍 후 처음으로 한국에 있는 부인과 통화를 하며 상당히 기뻐했다고 한다. 당시 귀국 여부에 대해 김씨는 “밀린 임금을 받아야 해 귀국할지를 고민하고 있다”고 말했다. 이와 관련, 또 다른 당국자는 “김씨는 김종규씨와 고용계약을 맺고 2010년 3월부터 기관장 일을 해왔다”며 “몇 달치 월급이 밀려 있어 이를 받아야 하는 상황이었다”고 전했다. 주케냐 대사관 측은 김씨의 가족에게 사망 사실을 알리고 현지 경찰에 신속하고 공정하게 수사해줄 것을 요청했다.

http://news.joins.com/article/978/5072978.html?ctg=

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