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Colonial Cases

France, Navy

Evening Express, 6 December 1893


A Ship's Crew Poisoned and Butchered in the South Seas.

A Renter's telegram from Brest on Tuesday says:- The naval courtmartial today commences the investigation of a remarkable case of piracy. Two brothers named Rorique and a man named Mirey were charged with mutiny, piracy, and murder. The brothers were sailors belonging to the Ninroath, of the port of Tahiti, and trading for coppra and other products in the South Sea Islands. Mirey, half caste, was cook, and the remainder of the crew consisted of a native skipper, an English super-cargo, named Gibson, and five Kanak sailors. The vessel carried goods to the value of £1,000 for barter. It is alleged that at one of the islands the two Roriques determined seize the ship and trade on their own account. They persuaded the cook to mix poison with the food served out to the crew, while they undertook to get rid of the captain and super-cargo.  The Roriques shot the skipper and super-cargo while the other six died from the effect of poisoned victuals. The mutineers then changed the ship's name and made for a remote island, where they impressed several Polynesians to work the vessel. After visiting several groups and disposing advantageously of the cargo the mutineers came to Panapa. Either suspecting the fidelity of the half-caste Mirey, or desiring to rid themselves of the only witness to their mis-deeds, they threatened to take Mirey's life whereupon he revealed the whole story to the authorities. The whole morning was occupied by the examination of the prisoners.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School