Indonesia has defended its detention of a Singaporean boat captain for allegedly trespassing in the country’s waters, urging all parties to respect existing laws.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told The Jakarta Post on Thursday (Mar 16) that the Malaysia-flagged vessel, the Seven Seas Conqueress, was allegedly involved in illegal conduct in Indonesian waters. He said the detention of its captain Ricky Tan Poh Hui and crew was carried out in Indonesia’s territorial waters.
“The case has entered the legal process and it is hoped that all parties will respect the applicable laws in Indonesia and observe the development of the legal process in question,” Mr Arrmanatha was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
He also said that the vessel allegedly did not have valid documents and permits, adding that consular access had been granted since the beginning of the investigation. The suspect’s lawyer had met several times at the naval base where Tan and the vessel are being held, he added.
The spokesman was speaking in response to a protest by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday.
An MFA spokesman said the Seven Seas Conqueress, its crew, and passengers, were detained by the Indonesian authorities within Singapore territorial waters off Pedra Branca.
"We have emphasised that there is no basis for Indonesia's detention of the vessel, its crew and passengers, nor for the continued detention of and purported charges brought against Mr Tan in the Tanjung Pinang District Court," the spokesman said.
"In addition, Singapore officials have communicated repeatedly with the relevant Indonesian authorities, at both the national and provincial level, to seek the immediate release of Mr Tan and the vessel, as well as the termination of any purported investigations against him."
Tan appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday, seven months after he was first arrested by the Indonesian navy on Aug 20.
Tan’s three-member crew and nine passengers, mainly recreational anglers from Singapore, were released 12 days later, but the 45-year-old captain has remained in the custody of the navy since his arrest.
The Tanjung Pinang District Court has charged him for entering Indonesian waters without permission, and failing to maintain navigational equipment on board his boat, which is required under Indonesian shipping laws.