Singaporean boat captain faces fine for allegedly entering Indonesian waters illegally

Singaporean boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat at a court hearing in Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia, on Oct 27, 2016.
Singaporean boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat at a court hearing in Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia, on Oct 27, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

JAKARTA - A Singaporean boat captain acquitted of illegal fishing in Indonesia's waters but still held by local authorities is facing a 100 million rupiah (about S$11,000) fine for allegedly entering Indonesian waters illegally.

The prosecutors made the demand against Mr Shoo Chiau Huat on Tuesday (Dec 20) before a panel of three judges during a hearing in Tanjung Pinang court. The fine can be substituted with a six-month jail term.

Mr Shoo's lawyer Herman Black said on Tuesday that the fine demanded is excessive, considering Mr Shoo's humble profession.

Mr Black will present his defence statement for Mr Shoo in the next hearing scheduled for Jan 4, while the court is expected to pass its ruling on Jan 11.

On April 16, Mr Shoo was carrying 13 passengers from Singapore and Malaysia, mainly recreational anglers, on the MV Selin when the boat was stopped by the Indonesian navy in the 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.

His lawyer, Mr Herman, 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 which his client has been acquitted of previously.

Mr Shoo, who has been behind bars since April, previously told The Straits Times that he intends to quit his job as a fishing boat captain once 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 added. "I'm also worried that my elderly father may find out about this, because if he does, it will make him feel stressed that I've spent so much time in prison."

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 it was monitoring his case "with concern" and had "sought clarification on the legal basis for Mr Shoo's detention".