A Taiwanese sailor is on his way back to Taiwan, possibly through Guangzhou in China, following his release from nearly five years of captivity by Somali pirates, Tsai Cheng-yuan (???), executive director of the opposition Kuomintang's Policy Committee, said Sunday.
Shen Jui-chang (???), the chief engineer of the Omani-flagged fishing vessel Naham 3, will possibly travel to Guangzhou before returning to Taiwan, according to Tsai, who has been assisting with efforts to obtain the sailor's release for several years.
The Naham 3 was hijacked in March 2012 roughly 65 nautical miles south of the Seychelles. Of the original 29-member crew, one died during the hijacking and two more succumbed to illness during their captivity. The remaining 26 crew members spent much of their captivity on land in Somalia.
The crew of the Naham 3, consisting of members from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, have been released, according to foreign media reports.
They will be repatriated via a United Nations Humanitarian flight shortly, according to the reports.
Shen's family turned to Tsai help in 2013, who finally managed, with the help of businessmen in Taiwan, China and the Philippines, to obtain his release.
Tsai declined to reveal the amount of ransom that was paid for the hostages.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Somali pirates initially asked for US$1.5 million, while the ship's owner wanted to pay only US$300,000.
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top China policy maker, said Sunday that it had not received notification that Shen has been sent to China. However, it said that Taiwan's overseas representative offices are prepared to get Shen back to Taiwan.
The Fisheries Agency also said that as the Naham 3 was not registered in Taiwan, it was unable to demand that the ship owner negotiate with the Somali pirates, and instead sought assistance from international humanitarian organizations.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel