Philippines files charges against Chinese fishermen who face up to 20 years in prison
Published on May 12, 2014 7:21 PM
PUERTO PRINCESA (AFP) - Philippine prosecutors on Monday filed environmental crime charges against nine Chinese fishermen arrested in disputed South China Sea waters, despite Beijing's warning of a dire effect on relations.
The court case is the latest step in a simmering dispute between the neighbours in the strategically important South China Sea, which is home to key shipping lanes and is believed to harbour vast oil and gas reserves.
Prosecutor Allan Ross Rodriguez told AFP the fishermen were charged with violating laws against poaching and catching protected species after they were allegedly caught with a huge haul of sea turtles - a protected species - on their boat.
The men, who were arrested last week when Filipino police seized their vessel, could face up to 20 years in prison and be hit with large fines if convicted, he added.
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