By Ainur Rohmah
Indonesia on Friday released 695 Vietnamese fishermen who were detained after straying into its waters.
They had been languishing in detention centers in Sumatra’s Riau province after being captured by authorities and accused of illegal fishing.
The freed fishermen will be picked up by three Vietnamese coast guard ships in the waters of Batam, said Eko Djalmo, head of marine and fishery resources at the Maritime Affairs Ministry.
Only five of the fishermen had served prison sentences, while the 690 others never went to trial, he added.
Some fishermen had been in the detention centers for as long as two years, Djalmo said, according to Indonesian news website Kompas.com.
Indonesia has harsh laws to combat illegal fishing in its waters. Detained foreign vessels are cleared of their crew, and then fired at and sunk.
The captain is captured and forced to undergo legal proceedings.
The fishermen’s release comes as Vietnam returned an Indonesian patrolman it had rescued from a boat accident in May.
In September 2016, Indonesia released 228 Vietnamese fishermen.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.