Nguyen Thanh Giang from the Vietnamese Embassy in Indonesia meets Vietnamese fishermen (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – The Vietnamese Embassy in Indonesia on November 15 sent a consular official to the court of Ranai in Indonesia’s Natuna islands, a day before a hearing for five Vietnamese captains who were arrested by Indonesian authorities at sea, to discuss the case with Indonesian prosecutors and lawyers.

Meeting the captains of the vessels and their lawyers, Nguyen Thanh Giang, who is in charge of consular affairs, learned that they had rejected the accusations and pointed to differences between where prosecutors said they were arrested and where they believe their vessels where operating.

The captains believed that they were arrested while operating in Vietnam’s waters.

Giang had a working session with representatives of Ranai prosecuting agency, asking for fair judgment in line with international and local law. He requested the court give reliable and verifiable evidence, especially on the exact position of the sailors when they were arrested.

The Vietnamese embassy also asked the court to soon conduct trial of pending cases to avoid prolonged detention, and send notices to the embassy so that it could dispatch representatives to the trials.

Waher Thorhiran from the Ranai prosecuting agency pledged that the cases will be handled justly. He also committed to carefully considering the position of the Vietnamese vessels.

According to the agency, sailors violating Indonesia’s exclusive economic zones or illegal fishing will not be detained as they will be freed right after their dossiers are completed. However, those who use banned fishing tools harming the environment will receive strict punishment of about 36,000-145,000 USD or 6 months-2 years of imprisonment, while their boats will be destroyed.

It is unclear whether the captains have been accused of using banned fishing tools.

According to the Vietnamese embassy, the Vietnamese captains are in good health, but are extremely worried as they feel unfairly treated.

Consular officials of the embassy will be present at the court on November 16 during the hearing to ensure justice is upheld.-VNA