"Their fishing boat was categorically small, namely only 6 gross tons."
Yoyakarta (ANTARA News) - The Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries Affairs (KKP) succeeded on Friday in freeing 11 Indonesian fishermen who were arrested by Malaysian authorities early this month, a cabinet minister said.

KKP Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo told reporters here on Saturday that the Indonesian fishermen who came from Langkat District, North Sumatra, were released after his ministry officials held intensive lobbyings with the Malaysian side.

He said that the Indonesian fishermen were arrested for fishing in the Malaysian waters. "They violated the water areas because they were only small fishermen who had no enough equipment to know their exact position," the minister said.

"The Indonesian fishermen admittedly had violated the border areas and were found guilty because they missed their way into the Malaysian water areas," the minister said.

The minister said the Malaysian side was ready to accept it if "we can provide them with reasonable legal arguments before the suspects are taken to the court. After all, we made approaches from the humanity aspect."

In the meantime, Director General for Marine and Fisheries Resources Supervision Syahrin Abdurrahman said the 11 Indonesian fishermen were arrested by the Malaysian apparatuses about 60 miles away from Pangkalan Brandan, Langkat District.

"Their fishing boat was categorically small, namely only 6 gross tons," he said.

The 11 fishermen who were arrested on March 1, 2013 were Helmi Suheri, Muhammad Amin, Jauhari, Vikindra, Iwan, Darwidin, Amri, Ahmad Dani, Zakaria, Muhammad Rio and Hasanuddin.

Syahrin said his directorate, in cooperation the foreign affairs ministry, was able to repatriate 293 Indonesian fishermen who were arrested overseas in 2012. They included 115 were repatriated from Australia, 20 from the Republic of Palau, seven from Papau New Guinea and 14 from Timor Leste.

Last week, the Australian government repatriated a total of 51 fishermen hailing from the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) after being detained since last year in that country.

The NTT`s police public relations officer Febrina Ida Pello said that the fishermen were repatriated through the El Tari Kupang airport.

"There are 51 fishermen arrived at the airport after flying Lion Air, but only two were identified as the other ones mingled with other passengers," she said.

The two fishermen, identified as Asrol Doro and Andri Giri still undergo investigation, before their departure to their village in Rote Island, she said.

According to the two fishermen, the Australian police accused them to have entered the Australian waters and nabbed them in September 2012.

"Actually we are fishing in Indonesian waters, but the Australian police accused us to have entered the Australian waters," Asrol said in the NTT`s police office.

Asrol said that the 51 fishermen have undergone their jail sentence after being accused of catching marine biota and brought illegal immigrants into the country`s territory.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2013