The World

Capt. Alexander G. Balian, ending his testimony at his court-martial in the Philippines, said that any Navy captain who encounters refugees at sea in the future "would be stupid" if he doesn't pick them up. Balian, 48, is charged with dereliction of duty for failing to rescue a group of Vietnamese refugees last June 9 in the South China Sea who later resorted to cannibalism before being rescued by Filipino fishermen after 37 days at sea. In the wake of that incident, Vice Adm. George W. Davis Jr., then commander of the Pacific fleet, sent a letter telling captains that assisting those in distress in peacetime takes precedence over any other commitment. Balian alluded to that directive in saying it would be "stupid" to pass up refugees.

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