15 Nov 2012

Crime suspected after finding body on yacht in Tonga

1:49 pm on 15 November 2012

Police in Tonga say they are treating a yacht grounded on a reef on a remote uninhabited atoll as a crime scene while they investigate the death of a man whose badly decomposed body was found on board.

The Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee says bad weather delayed efforts to search the stranded vessel for several days after the body was discovered by divers on the reef in the Vava'u Group.

Commissioner O'Fee says police are working with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the Australian Federal Police and Customs agencies and the Cook Islands Police to investigate the yacht and the man's death.

He says it appears the body is not a Tongan national.

"It's badly decomposed and it's no longer on the boat, we've removed it. But the one thing I can say is that we can confirm that Tonga was not the intended final destination for the yacht and we're treating it as a crime scene. We've no idea what the cause of death of this individual was, or in fact we haven't formally identified that person yet either."

Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee says he hopes to be able to release the man's identity soon once the contents of the yacht have been searched.