Capsized vessel survivors arraigned

HEADED TO COURT – The eight survivors of Friday, June 11 boating incident off the coast of West End, were charged with breach of illegal embarkation. (PHOTO: TFN)

Eight illegal immigrants were hauled to court by Bahamas Immigration Department (BID) on Monday, June 14, for being in breach of illegal embarkation.

The group – four Haitian females, three Haitian males and one Jamaican male – appeared before Magistrate LaQuay Laing in Freeport Magistrate’s court #3.

According to reports, the eight persons, one of whom was a male infant, were found on a vessel in waters off of West End, Grand Bahama and were alleged to have embarked in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, headed for a place outside of The Bahamas, without the permission of an immigration officer.

All appearing before Laing pleaded guilty to the charges before them.

As a result, they were ordered to be kept in the custody of the BID until deportation.

The group were survivors of a tragic boating incident, whereby the vessel they were aboard capsized, claiming the life of one adult Haitian female and one Haitian juvenile male.

It is believed that they were heading to the United States.

The BID, Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and other uniformed branches have issued a joint plea, strongly urging persons to "cease and desist such attempts – to be smuggled to the United States by boat – which is extremely dangerous, and as in this incident, could possibly result in the loss of life."

The eight survivors and the bodies of the deceased arrived at the RBPF Marine Division Headquarters on Friday (June 11) afternoon.

Press Liaison Officer, ASP Stephen Rolle gave media personnel at the dock, the details.

“Shortly before 9:00 a.m. this morning, police control room received a report from BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea and Rescue Association) of a capsized boat, some seven miles off of Memory Rock (off coast of West End). As a result, the Police Marine Section, along with the Customs Marine Section went into that area and conducted some investigations. Upon their arrival, they met a capsized vessel and eight persons hanging on, who appeared to be dehydrated and were rescued by the officers.

“Upon further checks of the vessel, they discovered two persons, submerged in the vessel, underwater. They were an adult female and a male child. At that time, they both appeared to be lifeless. The officers would have later transported the illegal immigrants, along with the two deceased persons to land where they were met by a local doctor. He pronounced both individuals lifeless.”

The accident is still under investigation.

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