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Romania: Extradition Hearing On Alleged Stowaway Murder Adjourned

Ottawa, 4 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - An extradition hearing in Canada for seven Taiwanese officers accused of murdering three Romanian stowaways has been adjourned because the chief prosecution witness refuses to testify against them.

A court is to decide whether the seven should be tried for the alleged murder of three Romanians who had hidden on a container ship. When the vessel docked in Halifax, crew members from the Philippines claimed the officers threw the stowaways overboard into the Atlantic Ocean. The hearing opened yesterday in the Atlantic Canadian port of Halifax.

Romania wants the seven tried in Romania, but the government of Taiwan, which owns the container ship, wants the trial in Taiwan. The purpose of the extradition hearing is only to determine whether there is adequate evidence for a trial. It would then be up to Canadian Justice Minister Alan Rock to decide where the men should be tried.

But at the opening of today's session, a former crew member refused to be sworn in, saying that he and his family are being subjected to death threats.