Fishing boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat, who has been detained in Indonesia for more than a year, is a step closer to his release after a court yesterday dismissed the charge of sailing in Indonesia's waters without a permit.
The only thing pending now is a prosecution appeal against his acquittal for illegal fishing.
The Tanjung Pinang district court's ruling came a day after another Singaporean boat captain, Mr Ricky Tan Poh Hui, was released. He paid a five million rupiah (S$520) fine and was sentenced to six months' probation last Thursday for trespassing in Indonesian waters.
Mr Tan, 45, left the Tanjung Pinang Naval Base, where he had been held since Aug 20 last year, on Tuesday, base spokesman Josdy Damopoli said.
He was piloting the vessel when he was stopped by an Indonesian navy patrol. His three crew members and nine passengers were released 12 days later.
It's about time we put an end to this incident, and I'm glad that it's finally wrapping up. My family is doing all right, but it has not been easy for my mother to manage the household alone.
MS MICHELLE SHOO, on the progress of her father Shoo Chiau Huat's case. He has been detained in Indonesia for more than a year.
Mr Tan told The Straits Times in a phone call yesterday that he should be back in Singapore by tonight. His release came after eight months in detention.
Shoo, 50, has been detained longer. He was arrested for illegal fishing on April 16 last year in Tanjung Berakit waters, off Bintan island.
He was acquitted in July last year but continued to be detained for alleged immigration offences. In January, he pleaded guilty to entering Indonesia illegally and paid the fine in March in the hope of being released.
But on April 4, he was charged with sailing in Indonesia's waters without a permit under the country's shipping laws.
Yesterday, chief judge Awani Setyowati said the court decided to dismiss the latest charge as it was contradictory to Indonesian laws to proceed against an offender on two different provisions for the same act.
"If an act is in breach of more than one criminal charge, only one provision should be used for prosecution," added the judge, who noted that Shoo had earlier been acquitted of illegal fishing and also paid the fine for entering Indonesia illegally.
Shoo told The Straits Times after the ruling he was pleased that the court did not proceed against him a third time.
"But there is still the verdict of the appeal against my acquittal on the fishery case," he said, adding that there was no information about his deportation yet.
Immigration officials said the deportation process will begin only after a higher court rules on the prosecution appeal.
Court officials yesterday could not say when the appeal would be heard in the Supreme Court.
Mr Elbertus Rustanto, a senior immigration official in Riau Islands, told The Straits Times that Shoo will be released without delay if the Supreme Court dismisses the appeal.
"We cannot wait too long, because he is not an Indonesian but a foreigner," he added.
Shoo's daughter Michelle said she is looking forward to seeing her father again soon.
"It's about time we put an end to this incident, and I'm glad that it's finally wrapping up," she told The Straits Times yesterday.
"My family is doing all right, but it has not been easy for my mother to manage the household alone," said Ms Shoo, who is the second of four siblings.