Missing sailor's dad in S'pore for answers

STILL HOPEFUL: Mr Jakov Boko arrived in Singapore from Croatia on Monday to speak to the authorities here regarding his son's disappearance. The younger man had been on board a ship headed for Singapore when he went missing.

SINGAPORE - He refused to take off the black sling bag that he was holding during the interview.

We later found out why.

The bag is among the last possessions belonging to his son, who was on board a vessel in Singapore waters some time in June last year when the younger man went missing.

Mr Jakov Boko, 55, arrived in Singapore from Croatia on Monday to speak to the authorities here, to find out more about his son's disappearance.

His son, Mr Mario Boko, was a trainee cadet working on board the commercial cargo ship Atlas, which is owned by the Japanese company NYK Shipmanagement.

The older man, a Croatian national, told The New Paper through a translator: "This (bag) is how I keep Mario close to me because I don't know when I'll see him again."

Mr Mario Boko, who was 23 when he went missing, had been working on the Atlas for about six months when the incident happened. The ship was heading for Singapore when he disappeared.

His parents and two siblings last heard from him on June 3, when he called his family in Croatia. The vessel was in South Korea at the time.

Mr Jakov Boko said: "When Mario called, nothing was amiss. He was happy and excited, and even showed us what he had bought for the family."

The younger man had not told them when he would be returning to Croatia, but he did tell his best friend in his home country about plans to return early on June 14 to surprise his family.

But on June 14, crew members of the Atlas reported him missing.

According to Croatian daily Vecernji List, the skipper of the Atlas, Captain Niculae Tiberiutulian, said that Mr Boko was last spotted at about 9pm on June 13 by a crew member.

He was on deck then, and was found to be missing only a few hours later, when he failed to report for duty around midnight.

However, according to NYK Shipmanagement, Mr Boko was found missing after the ship had docked in Singapore and immigration officers had come on board.

TNP understands that on the night of June 13, the weather was good and the sea was calm.

A search by crew members was conducted at about 2am on June 14. Mr Boko's belongings were in his room, but he was nowhere to be found.

An agent from NYK Shipmanagement informed the family about his disappearance on the day he was reported missing.

The senior Mr Boko said: "They simply said my son disappeared. Nobody knows what happened."

For the past months, the Boko family have been waiting for news on their missing family member, but they have not received any new information.

Mr Jakov Boko met the Police Coast Guard and NYK Shipmanagement officials during his three-day stay in Singapore.

NYK Shipmanagement managing director Hemant Pathania, 60, said that the company had conducted investigations into the incident.

He said: "We cannot comment on why he disappeared, but no wrongdoing has been found to have been committed on anyone's part."

The company is also helping the family to settle the compensation that is part of Mr Boko's contract.

Mr Jakov Boko said: "We're still hopeful. My wife thinks Mario is still alive, just that he might be in trouble and can't call for help...

"Every day gets harder because I am losing hope. I came here hoping that there would be news, but, unfortunately, things are the same."


This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.