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Jail sought for Indonesian skipper in Japanese diver deaths

Indonesian prosecutors Tuesday sought a jail term of three years and six months for a boat skipper who lost track of seven Japanese women during a diving trip that left two of them dead.

DENPASAR, Indonesia: Indonesian prosecutors Tuesday sought a jail term of three years and six months for a boat skipper who lost track of seven Japanese women during a diving trip that left two of them dead.

Agustinus Brata Kusuma lost sight of the women near the resort island of Bali on February 14 when a storm hit suddenly.

Five of them were saved after clinging onto coral reefs for three days some 20 kilometres from their take-off point.

Kusuma, who is accused of negligence causing death and injury, admitted at a recent hearing that after searching for around an hour for the women, he left the location to get more fuel.

"The captain of the boat should have been paying attention to the safety of the Japanese divers. But he didn't do that as he left them to buy fuel, so when they came to the surface the boat wasn't there," prosecutor Ni Nyoman Martini told the Denpasar District Court.

"As a result, the Japanese divers were floating in the sea and were wounded in the waves, while two of them were killed."

Kusuma worked for dive company Yellow Scuba in Bali, which organised the trip for the women around the neighbouring islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan.

A Japanese instructor with Yellow Scuba, Saori Furukawa, was among the women saved. She told the court how she fired a flare gun to get the skipper's attention to no avail.

Furukawa told reporters after the incident that the weather suddenly turned bad and the sea spun "like a washing machine". She described being swept apart from the other divers by a strong current.

The body of Shoko Takahashi, who ran Yellow Scuba with her husband, was found around a month after the incident.

Diver Ritsuko Miyata was also killed.

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