Gardaí praised for work in identifying body found by Spanish trawler

Garda investigation led to identification of fisherman (36) and return of body to family in Indonesia

Gardaí have been praised for their work in identifying a fisherman, whose partial remains were dragged up in nets by a trawler over 300 kilometres off the Irish coast, so they could be repatriated to his family in Indonesia.

Coroner for West Cork, Frank O'Connell said that Sgt Stephen O'Sullivan of Castletownbere Garda station had done tremendous work in officially confirming the identity of Indonesian fisherman, Slamet Supriyono (36).

“Sgt O’Sullivan did a marvellous job in formally identifying Mr Supriyono’s remains and then arranging for his remains to be sent home to his family in Indonesia – I must say I’m proud of how the Irish authorities handled this.”

Sgt O'Sullivan had told the inquest at Bantry Courthouse how the Spanish fishing vessel, Rio de Bouza had been fishing, some 331kms off the South West coast of Ireland on January 19th 2019 when it made the grim discovery.

He said that the skipper of the Rio de Bouza, Jose Alvarez Gayo told gardai how they had hauled their nets in an area known as the Grand Sol when they spotted partial human remains in the catch.

The Rio de Bouza had been trawling along the sea floor and the human remains had got caught up in its nets and were deposited aboard the trawler when the crew emptied her nets to examine their catch.


Capt Gayo noticed that the remains consisted of the lower half of a human torso clad in a tracksuit pants, which was badly decomposed, and he believed that the remains may have been in the sea for up to two years or more.

He told gardai how he and his crew put the remains in a bag, wrapped the bag in plastic and put the remains in the cold room where they remained untouched until the trawler came into Castletownbere to land her catch.

Sgt O’Sullivan said gardai requested the services of a Garda technical expert upon being told of the discovery of the body and the remains were preserved and brought to Cork University Hospital for a postmortem.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster in the course of her postmortem found a plastic pouch attached to the remains which contained Spanish identity papers which named the man as Slamet Supriyono.

Sgt O'Sullivan said gardaí contacted Spanish colleagues through Interpol and they took a statement from the skipper of Spanish trawler, Nuevo Ebenezer fishing out of Lugo in Northern Spain from which Mr Supriyono disappeared.

According to the skipper, the Nuevo Ebenezer was fishing in the Grand So on August 19th 2018 when around 2.50am, the crew noticed Mr Supriyono’ clothes on deck and they assumed he had jumped overboard.

Sgt O’Sullivan said that Dr Bolster took a number of DNA samples from the remains at post-mortem and Spanish police tracked down Mr Supriyono’s brother, Untung Waluyo and obtained a DNA sample from him.

He said that Dr Stephen Clifford of Forensic Science Ireland examined the samples and found that the two samples taken from bones in the torso and Mr Waluyo were identical matches in some 20 of 32 elements of DNA.


Dr Clifford concluded from his analysis that it was 84,000 times more likely the two men were brothers than that they were not related, “strongly supporting” the belief the remains were those of Mr Supriyono.

Sgt O’Sullivan said he made contact with the Spanish consul in Castletownbere, Cornelio O’Donovan to arrange for the transfer on January 28th 2020 of Mr Supriyono’s remains back to Spain and on to his home in Indonesia.

Mr O’Connell said that although Dr Bolster had not been able to establish a cause of death, he believe as a matter of probability that Mr Supriyono drowned but it was unclear how he ended up in the sea on August 18th 2018.

He returned a narrative verdict before expressing his sympathies to Mr Supriyono’s family. “What a sad, sad story - thankfully his ID was still intact so he could be identified and returned to his family - may he rest in peace.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times