recent article featured in The New York Times, titled “Murder at Sea: Captured on Video, But Killers Go Free,” showcases the total lawlessness of international waters.

The parts of the video that are public show the murder of four men in 2012 or 2013. The New York Times argues that those men could have been stowaways, or perhaps victims of violence stemming from the highly competitive fishing industry. (It is common for fishermen to have weapons in order to protect themselves from pirates, and although there have been cases when they have fired at other ships to scare them away from their nets, I doubt that is the case here.)

The most probable explanation is that this was a case of vigilantism against pirates; the presence of a capsized boat reinforces that. After a failed attempt to capture the fishing trawler, the pirates’ boat likely capsizing under large waves or from hitting the bigger boat, the pirates were summarily executed.

Bear in mind that many crews hold quite the grudge against pirates because they, or people they know, have been endangered by the pirate presence. They might even have had friends among the hostages in Somalia. All that was in 2012, of course.