Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Decomposed Body Found In Yacht Adrift In Tongan Waters
Yacht currently subject to international investigation

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 14, 2012) – "Jereve" is the name of a yacht in which a badly decomposed male body was found by divers on November 7, after it ran aground on a reef in Luatafito Atoll located 20 kilometers from the Vava'u Island Group in Tonga.

Police confirmed the yacht, now a crime scene, is subject to an International Multi-Jurisdictional Law Enforcement operation spanning four countries from the United States, Australia, Cook Islands and Tonga.

Commissioner Grant O'Fee said this afternoon that the international investigation involves the Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and the Cook Islands Police.

He did not comment on queries as to whether drugs were found on the yacht, but he confirmed that Tonga was not its intended destination.

"The yacht is being treated as a crime scene since a death occurred. Police at this stage have not ruled the death as suspicious but it remains an unexplained death," he said.

However, no other details in regards to the yacht's origin, route or owners were released at this stage.

Once the search of the yacht was completed and the processing of the crime scene, which is likely to take several days, is done, further details would be released later in the week in regards to the international investigation, he said.


Commissioner O'Fee said that the body of the badly decomposed male person had not been identified, as well as the cause of death.

The body had been recovered and taken to Neiafu and was subject to post mortem examination tomorrow, he said.

He said the formal identification processes are yet to be finalized, and family members had not been notified. "But I can confirm that this man is not a Tongan national but a palangi," he said.

Tonga Police are working in partnership with the Australian Federal Police in a thorough examination of the crime scene. At the same time Tonga Police along with the Tonga Defence Services are conducting a maritime recovery exercise of the yacht, which remains stuck on the reef on the atoll, he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Police Commissioner 'Unga Fa'aoa, Superintendent Kalisi Tohifolau and detectives from the Police Serious Crime Unit, are in Vava'u for the investigation.

Matangi Tonga Magazine:
Copyright 2012 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

Go back to Pacific Islands Report