Featured Slot 2

death on the high seas

Not Sailing

Crimes like this don’t often happen on land. A 10-minute slow-motion slaughter captured by a cell phone camera shows a group of unarmed men at sea in an undisclosed location, possibly 15 of them, killed one by one by a semiautomatic weapon, after which the culprits pose for celebratory selfies.

This case shows the challenge of prosecuting crimes on the high seas. There were at least four ships on the scene, but no law required any of the dozens of witnesses to report the killings — and no one did. Law enforcement in the open ocean is limited, and jurisdiction is complicated. Authorities learned of the killings only when the video turned up on a cell phone left in a taxi in Fiji in 2014.

It’s still unclear who the victims were or why they were shot. An unknown number of similar killings take place each year — deckhands on the ship from which the video was shot later said they’d witnessed a similar slaughter a week before. Read on.