A day after a sailor from the Australian navy was reported to have died of a gun shot wound, on board Australian warship HMAS Toowoomba, the Yellow Gate police on Tuesday registered an accidental death report and launched a probe into the death.
The ship, which anchored at the Mumbai port on October 21, was supposed to set sail to its base at Perth on Tuesday. The Mumbai police were not informed of the death till Monday evening. Even the name of the soldier is still to be disclosed.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Port Zone, Tanaji Ghadge told HT that the probe by the Yellow Gate police would be parallel to the investigation by a team from the internal investigation service of the Royal Australian Navy. The team landed in Mumbai on Monday night.
“We would like the Australian investigating team to give us a copy of the report related to the (primary) cause of the death, and the statement of the crew members, including the master of the ship,” Ghadge said, adding that the Australian team is likely to submit the report by Wednesday.
Sources in the Yellow Gate police said that they have asked the Australian team to provide a video recording or still photos of the cabin where the sailor’s body was found, as well as photos of the body and the weapons, to ascertain the cause of death. The ship’s master had reportedly refused to allow the Mumbai police to conduct any kind of probe, see the body or the weapon used, and record the statement of crew members, citing diplomatic protocol.
The Mumbai police also said that the No Objection Certificate to send the body by air from the city would only be granted after the Yellow Gate police were satisfied with the Australian team’s findings. “They have been told to provide us with a detailed investigation report, including the autopsy, after they take the body to Australia. This is because we will register a case here and file a chargesheet once the probe is completed,” sources said.
To decide the modalities of the investigation, a meeting was held at the Mantralaya.
The sailor’s body has been preserved in a refrigerator.