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NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA

On May 24th of this year (1996) the Taiwanese freighter, the Maersk Dubai, manned by an international crew, pulled into the port of Halifax, Canada, laden with the heavy weight of an evil concealed. This evil was revealed through the courageous action of a Filipino deckhand, Rodolfo Miguel, at considerable jeopardy to his own life and welfare.

The freighter carried cargo to numerous countries as it constantly circled the globe. During a recent Atlantic crossing, two stowaways were found on board, a not uncommon event on ships of this type. The time honored tradition of the sea is that such individuals would be put to work scrubbing dishes until the ship docked, at which point, they would be turned over to the local authorities. This is a custom as old as sailing itself.

However, the Captain of the Maersk Dubai was not to do what was expected. Instead, he reacted with a stunningly cold swiftness, and ordered the men thrown overboard. The two youths were hardly able to believe what was happening to them. In a last deperate attempt to avoid their fate, they had clung to the legs of the officers who were pushing them into the ocean, all the while, begging for their lives. But the officers ignored their pleas, even as the boys pulled out pictures of their families, spilling them across the deck in a final futile gesture. Miguel and several other sailors had tried to intervene, but were viciously reprimanded and threatened by the Captain.

With nothing as close to God on earth as a Captain at sea, the deckhands dared not confront the officers further. Within minutes, they witnessed the condemned men struggling in the water as the ship pulled away.

Later on in the voyage, a third stowaway was discovered by the officers and suffered the same fate. The morning after this third killing, Miguel was horrified to encounter a fourth stowaway trying to surrender to him. Grabbing the youth, he tried to pull him towards a hiding spot in the engine room, but the man, not understanding, struggled against him, repeating over and over in broken English that he wanted to surrender. Finally, Miguel pointed to the Captain through a porthole and gave the universal sign of a finger across the throat. Suddenly, comprehending the danger, the man followed his benefactor towards a hiding place in the hold. There he would remain until their arrival in Canada, where Miguel managed to delivered him safely to the authorities. He also made a complete report on all that had occurred.

Presently, Miguel's hopes for swift justice and a return to a normal life are not to be as the entire case has turned into a diplomatic nightmare. The shipping company has hired an army of lawyers who have gotten the accused officers released on bail while they work on having the case dismissed on international legal technicalities. The company continues to pay all the officers' expenses, including full salaries and travel expenses for their wives to Canada.

Meanwhile, Rodolfo Miguel has fared less well. He languishes in a small hotel room awaiting the outcome of the case. Despite the fact that his family is being harassed in his homeland the Canadian Government will not allow him to bring them into the country. He has not been able to find work and has had to defend himself from ridiculous counter-charges that the defense team has fabricated in an effort to diffuse the truth. Hopefully, as public awareness of this case grows, there will still be a chance for justice.