Indonesia won't appeal against S'pore boat captain's fine

Indonesian prosecutors yesterday decided not to appeal against a Tanjung Pinang court's decision to impose a fine on Singaporean fishing boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat.

But the 50 year-old, who pleaded guilty to entering Indonesia illegally last Tuesday, remains behind bars - even though he told the court that he would pay the 50 million rupiah (S$5,300) penalty.

This is because his passport is still being held by the Indonesian Navy, which wants him to answer a separate charge of sailing in Indonesia's waters without a permit - an offence that carries a maximum penalty of six years' jail.

Shoo was arrested by the navy last April and has been in remand for more than nine months, even though he was acquitted of the original offence of illegal fishing in July last year.

Prosecutor Haryo Nugroho, who would only comment on the immigration offence after yesterday's hearing, said he has accepted the court's decision and will not take any further action against Shoo as long as he pays the fine or serves five months in jail.

The extended detention of Shoo prompted Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to send a diplomatic note to their Indonesian counterparts late last year.

The MFA also followed up with a statement last Friday, saying that while Singapore respects the law and judicial process of Indonesia, it was "deeply concerned" about Shoo's prolonged detention and the "long-drawn" judicial process related to his case.

"We will continue to reiterate to the relevant Indonesian authorities that Mr Shoo's case be processed expeditiously, so that he can return to Singapore without unnecessary delay," the ministry said.

The move by the navy last week was the second time the Indonesian authorities have gone after Shoo for a different offence since he was acquitted of illegal fishing.

Neither Shoo nor his lawyer was aware of the separate probe by the navy until his sentencing.

The navy had said at the time that it was investigating an alleged breach of "sailing laws" against Shoo, and hoped the case would have a "deterrent effect".

Shoo's lawyer, Mr Suharjo, said he was informed that the navy would tender their charge last week. "But until now, we have not been notified," said Mr Suharjo.

Shoo confirmed that he has not heard from the navy about their fresh charges. "I have been not called or notified about it, so I do not know when it will be processed," he told The Straits Times after the hearing yesterday.

He said his wife Jasmine Shoo visited him before the hearing.

However, he lamented that his family in Singapore will be celebrating Chinese New Year later this week without him for the first time. "My family knows about the verdict ... but they do not know what else they can do to help me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesia won't appeal against S'pore boat captain's fine'. Print Edition | Subscribe