Trinidad and Tobago police say a boat that was discovered on the sister island of Tobago with 14 dead men, a skull as well as other skeletal remains, came from the northwestern African country of Mauritania.
According to local news outlet Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, the boat was found floating some four miles away from the town of Belle Garden on Friday. The bodies, which were moved to a mortuary at a local hospital, were decomposed at the time of discovery. The boat was said to have been discovered by fishermen.
“The boat (registration AG 231) according to our information was believed to have been stolen and investigations are under way in that country [Mauritania] with respect to that boat,” Assistant Commissioner of Police William Nurse told the press on Monday, according to The Trinidad and Tobago Express.
Nurse also disclosed a forensic pathologist at the Scarborough Mortuary was carrying out autopsies on the bodies to establish their cause of death, adding that the police expected the surgical procedures to be completed on Monday, May 31.
“Given the level of decomposition, we are not sure that we would be able to get a definite cause of death,” Nurse added. “It may be dependent on a toxicology report. If that is the case, we will wait on that before making a pronouncement.”
And though it has been determined the boat came from the African country, Nurse said the police is yet to establish if the deceased men were Mauritanians. “We cannot say whether the individual bodies were… citizens of Mauritania. What we will do is the best way to respond to that is to do cadaver fingerprints and having done that we might have secured identity,” Nurse said.
Besides the bodies, Nurse revealed that his officers found a cellphone on the boat and investigations “confirmed that cellphone was registered in Mauritania as well.”
“We are trying through the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs to make connections with that country to see whether or not an investigation has in fact started there, and how far it has reached. So this would require collaboration between Trinidad and Tobago and Mauritania,” Nurse added.