S'pore boat captain faces fresh charges in Indonesia

Indonesian prosecutors yesterday tendered fresh charges against Singaporean fishing boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat.

He was charged with sailing in Indonesia's waters in April last year without a permit under the country's shipping laws.

The move came even though he had pleaded guilty in January and recently paid a 50 million rupiah (S$5,300) fine for entering Indonesia illegally in the same incident that led to his arrest.

The 50-year-old Shoo did not enter a plea yesterday, but he will have to decide whether to go to trial or plead guilty to the offences, which carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

He had seven Singaporeans and six Malaysians on board the MV Selin when the boat was stopped by the Indonesian Navy on April 16 last year in Tanjung Berakit waters, off Bintan island.

He has been in remand for almost a year, even though he was acquitted of the original charge of illegal fishing in July last year. But he was slapped with immigration offences after his acquittal for illegal fishing.

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 he now faces what he fears would be another long trial.

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

The MFA, in a statement after the hearing, said it was deeply concerned over the long-drawn judicial process against Shoo and his prolonged detention in Indonesia.

"The Singapore Government respects the laws and judicial process of Indonesia in connection with Mr Shoo's case, but remains deeply concerned over his prolonged detention and long-drawn judicial process," the MFA said.

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

The MFA also said its officers from the Singapore Consulate in Batam will continue to render all necessary consular assistance to Shoo and his family.

Shoo told The Straits Times on the sidelines of the hearing yesterday that the paperwork for the MV Selin was complete, and he had the relevant permits.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore boat captain faces fresh charges in Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe