Two Antiguans involved in fatal boat accident are charged with smuggling in St Kitts

The two Antiguans who were rescued after last Tuesday’s fatal boat incident have been charged with smuggling in neighbouring St. Kitts.

Reports say the two, whose names have not been released, are due to appear in court to answer to the charge, but the date for the case is not yet known.

Meanwhile, local law-enforcement officers are still trying to verify claims that the boat was stolen here and other information that could lead to further arrests.

Provided that  officers are able to identify those who were involved in the alleged smuggling attempt, then charges are likely to be proffered, assures Colonel Telbert Benjamin, chief of defence staff of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force.

Colonel Benjamin says that resources, including CCTV cameras, ought to be in place at certain locations, since these would have been of beneficial help to investigators.

While there has been speculation that the ill-fated boat left the Urlings Fisheries wharf, the Police are still conducting investigations to confirm this widespread rumour.

In the meantime, other reports and videos in circulation show the vessel, La Belle Michelle II, leaving the Jolly Harbour port with only two people on board.

Meanwhile, police officials in St. Kitts are handling investigations related to the 15 survivors who were taken to that island after the incident at sea.

Issues related to who actually captained the vessel; where the boat and its passengers were coming from; the name of the vessel; and its intended destination are also being investigated by the St. Kitts authorities, Colonel Benjamin reports.

Since the boat capsized in waters between St. Kitts and Antigua last week, three passengers have been confirmed dead while 14 remain missing and are presumed dead.

It is alleged that the 30-foot fiberglass vessel was dangerously overcrowded and was taking West Africans, mostly Cameroonians, to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.