Prosecutors seek $11,000 fine against Singapore boat captain

Mr Shoo Chiau Huat has been behind bars since April.
Mr Shoo Chiau Huat has been behind bars since April.

Prosecutors have asked that a Singaporean boat captain, who has previously been acquitted of illegal fishing in Indonesian waters, be fined 100 million rupiah (S$11,000) for entering Indonesian waters illegally.

They called for the fine against Mr Shoo Chiau Huat, who has been held by the Indonesian authorities since his previous acquittal, before a panel of three judges at a hearing in Tanjung Pinang court in Bintan yesterday.

The fine can be substituted with a six-month jail term.

Mr Shoo's lawyer Herman Black said yesterday that the fine demanded was excessive, considering Mr Shoo's humble profession.

Mr Black will present his defence for Mr Shoo at the next hearing on Jan 4, and the court is expected to hand down its ruling on Jan 11.

Mr Shoo was carrying 13 passengers from Singapore and Malaysia, mostly recreational anglers, on the MV Selin on April 16 when the boat was stopped by the Indonesian navy in waters of Tanjung Berakit, off Bintan island, for trespassing.

All passengers were arrested and deported about a week later but Mr Shoo was charged with illegal fishing in Indonesian waters.

A court, however, ruled that there was insufficient evidence and acquitted him in July.

But Mr Shoo remains in the custody of local immigration authorities after he was charged with an immigration offence instead.

Mr Black then appealed to the court to throw out the case against his client on the grounds of "irregularity".

Mr Black said the immigration offence faced by Mr Shoo was based on his arrest by the navy for illegal fishing, a charge of which his client had been acquitted.

Mr Shoo, who has been behind bars since April, has previously told The Straits Times that he intends to quit his job as a boat captain after he is released.

"This case has been very traumatising. All I did was take people out to sea for fishing, but look what I have been going through," he said.

The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a diplomatic note to the Indonesian authorities against Mr Shoo's detention.

The ministry told The Straits Times in August that it was monitoring his case with concern and had "sought clarification on the legal basis for Mr Shoo's detention".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Prosecutors seek $11,000 fine against Singapore boat captain'. Print Edition | Subscribe