News

Nobody knows what happened

tantam@sph.com.sg

He refused to take off a black sling bag he was holding during the interview.

We later found out why.

The bag is among the last possessions belonging to his son, who was found to be missing on board a vessel in Singapore waters sometime in June last year.

Mr Jakov Boko, 55, arrived in Singapore from Croatia on Monday to speak to local authorities to find out more about his son's disappearance.

His son, Mr Mario Boko, was a trainee cadet working on board the commercial cargo ship Atlas, which is owned by the Japanese company NYK Shipmanagement.

The senior Mr Boko, a Croatian national, told The New Paper through a translator: "This (bag) is how I keep Mario close to me because I don't know when I'll see him again."

His son, who was 23 when he went missing, had been working on the Atlas for about six months when the incident happened.

The ship was headed for Singapore to when he disappeared.

His parents and two siblings, an older brother and younger sister, last heard from him on June 3 when he called his family in Croatia when the vessel was in South Korea.

Mr Boko said: "When Mario called, nothing was amiss. He was happy and excited and even showed us what he had bought for the family."

His son had not told them when he would be returning to Croatia, but had told his best friend in his home country about plans to return early on June 14 to surprise his family.

REPORTED MISSING

But on June 14, crew members of the Atlas reported him missing.

According to Croatian daily Vecernji List, the skipper of the Atlas, Captain Niculae Tiberiutulian, said that Mr Mario Boko was last spotted at about 9pm on June 13 by a crew member.

He was on the deck and was only found to be missing a few hours later, when he failed to report for duty around midnight.

However, according to NYK Shipmanagement, the younger Mr Boko was found missing after the ship had docked in Singapore and local immigration officers had came on board.

TNP understands that on the night of June 13, the weather was good and the sea was calm.

A search by crew members was conducted at about 2am on June 14. Mr Mario Boko's belongings were in his room, but he was nowhere to be found.

An agent from NYK Shipmanagement informed the family about his disappearance on the day he was reported missing.

The senior Mr Boko said: "They simply said my son disappeared. Nobody knows what happened."

For the past months, the Boko family has been waiting in anticipation for any news on their missing family member, but they have not received any new information.

Mr Jakov Bokomet the Police Coast Guard and NYK Shipmanagement officials during his three-day stay in Singapore.

NYK Shipmanagement managing director Hemant Pathania, 60, said that the company had conducted its investigations of the incident.

He said: "We cannot comment on why he disappeared, but no wrongdoing has been found to have been committed on anyone's part."

The company is also helping the family to settle the compensation that is part of the younger Mr Boko's contract.

Well-loved by family and friends back in Croatia, Mr Mario Boko was a sportsman who excelled in basketball, football and water sports.

He had received a scholarship from NYK Shipmanagement and was excited to start work on the Atlas.

MEDIA ATTENTION

The case has received considerable attention and coverage from various media outlets in Croatia.

Mr Jakov Bokoadded that Croatian seamen in Singapore and other parts of Asia have contacted the family to say that they are searching for his son too.

He said: "We're still hopeful. My wife thinks Mario is still alive, just that he might be in trouble and can't call for help.

"I can't believe that I might never get to see him again. How could someone just disappear like that? Hearing something or anything (about him) is enough."

He added: "Every day gets harder because I am losing hope. I came here hoping that there would be news, but unfortunately things are the same."

I can't believe that I might never get to see him again. How could someone just disappear like that?

- Mr Jakov Boko (right), whose son Mario went missing on board a vessel in Singapore waters in June last year