16 February 2024

Additional slavery, torture charges for Karumba skipper

| Cape York Weekly

Police have charged a 47-year-old Karumba skipper with an additional 23 offences as part of Operation Victor Diabelli, including more involving torture and slavery. Photo: Supplied (Queensland Police Service).

The “well-known” Karumba commercial fishing skipper already facing almost 50 offences has been charged with an additional 23 offences, including slavery, torture, and attempting to make another individual commit a kidnapping.

On 12 February, 2024, Queensland Police Service detectives from the Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch charged the 47-year-old man with a range of new offences – an additional seven counts of common assault, five counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, three counts of stealing, two counts each of torture, and causing a person to enter or remain in servitude, and one count each of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, fraud, and attempt to procure others to commit criminal act (kidnapping).

The charges result from ongoing investigations as part of Operation Victor Diabelli, which was launched in 2023 following reports a man had allegedly threatened and assaulted numerous deckhands on board his fishing vessels in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Police announced on Friday afternoon that the operation was also investigating allegations of witness intimidation, and attempts to pervert the course of justice.

READ ALSO Karumba skipper remanded on torture and slavery charges

Detectives commended the bravery of the individuals who had come forward, but urged anyone else who believed they may have information, or who have been impacted, to make themselves known to investigators.

Following the initial charges being laid last month, Acting Inspector Jason Chetham told media the man owned a number of fishing vessels, and that his alleged victims were mostly from Cape York.

“We certainly believe he is a well-known fisherman in the Karumba area,” Acting Inspector Chetham said at the time.

The man remains remanded in custody and will next appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on 5 April, 2024.

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