Chef of hijacked ship Orkim Harmony shot trying to ward off pirates, says envoy

KUALA LUMPUR - The chef of MT Orkim Harmony was shot after a struggle with one of the pirates on board the ship on June 11, said Indonesian ambassador Herman Prayitno.

Mawit Matin, 46, was shot in the thigh and was flown by helicopter to the Universiti Sains Malaysian Hospital in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan for treatment.

MT Orkim Harmony arrived at Kuantan Port early Saturday with the 22 crew and RM21 million (S$7.49 million) worth of fuel. The eight pirates had agreed to leave the ship after negotiations with the Malaysian authorities.

"He was opening a door to go outside to throw some rubbish when he ran into one of the suspects. He was surprised and reacted by trying to fight the man.

"That was when he was shot," Prayitno told The Star Online.

He said the other four Indonesian crew members - Nelson Hasiholan Sitorus, Natan Kombongan, Iwan Asriadi and ship chief officer Bambang Suryawan - are being held in Kuantan with the other seaman for questioning by Malaysian authorities.

The embassy will assist the Indonesians to return home after investigations into the hijacking were completed.

Prayitno said the embassy was still trying to establish the nationalities of eight people caught near an island in Vietnam on Thursday despite the Navy saying they are Indonesians.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency deputy director-general (operations) Maritime Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said the chef confirmed the eight to be the ship's hijackers.

"At this moment, most likely that it is them. The photo was one indicator it is them. The process of investigation will be conducted professionally and all areas will be covered," he said.