Boat captain Ricky Tan detained in Tanjung Pinang is released: Indonesian navy spokesman

Ricky Tan Poh Hui (above) had been in the custody of the Indonesian navy since his arrest in August 2016.
Ricky Tan Poh Hui (above) had been in the custody of the Indonesian navy since his arrest in August 2016.PHOTO: F. PANGESTU

JAKARTA - Fishing boat captain Ricky Tan Poh Hui has been released from the Tanjung Pinang Naval Base where he had been held since August last year (2016), and is free to return to Singapore, said Major Josdy Damopoli.

The spokesman for the naval base was responding to queries from The Straits Times on Tuesday night (May 2) when asked if Mr Tan had been released.

"Yes, he has left Tanjung Pinang," said Major Josdy, but he declined to say whether or not Mr Tan was on his way back to Singapore.

The Straits Times understands the Seven Seas Conqueress, a fishing boat piloted by Mr Tan during the incident, is no longer at the naval base where it had been held since his arrest. The vessel had needed repairs before it made its voyage home.

His release marks the end of an eight-month ordeal at the Tanjung Pinang Naval Base, where he was detained on-board the fishing boat which was held by the Indonesian navy.

 

The Singapore boat captain had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months' probation and slapped with a 5 million rupiah (S$520) fine last Thursday for trespassing in Indonesian waters.

The Tanjung Pinang District Court had declared him a free man after he paid the fine, but agreed with the prosecution that if Mr Tan were to re-offend during his probation period, he would be jailed for three months.

The judges' decision was in line with what prosecutors had demanded against Mr Tan, who is one of two boat captains from Singapore who have been detained on Tanjung Pinang for similar offences since last year.

Mr Tan was at the helm of the Seven Seas Conqueress when he was stopped by an Indonesian navy patrol on Aug 20 last year in waters off Bintan island, according to prosecutors.

His three-member crew and nine passengers were released 12 days after their boat was detained, but the 45-year-old captain had remained in the navy's custody and held onboard the boat docked at the naval base since last August.

Mr Tan had told The Straits Times earlier that he would return to Singapore by Wednesday evening but he could not be reached on Tuesday night.

He is the second Singaporean boat captain after Shoo Chiau Huat to have been detained for such an extended period in Tanjung Pinang by Indonesian authorities.

Shoo, who is the captain of the MV Selin, was arrested by the Indonesian Navy on April 16 last year (2016) in Tanjung Berakit waters, off Bintan island.

A court found him not guilty of illegal fishing in July last year but he was charged with immigration offences after his acquittal.

In January, he decided to plead guilty to the charge of entering Indonesia illegally, and paid the fine last month 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.

His extended detention had prompted Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send a diplomatic note to its Indonesian counterpart late last year.

Shoo's hearing resumes in court on Wednesday.