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Taiwan publishes fishing boat log to refute Manila's claims

2013/05/21 21:46:05

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Taiwan's top fishery official on Tuesday published the record of a Taiwanese fishing boat's voyage to refute claims that it was operating in the Philippines territorial waters when it was attacked by a Philippine government vessel.

A Philippine vessel strafed the fishing boat on May 9, killing a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, in waters south of Taiwan's Pingtung County.

The Philippine media has reported that the Taiwanese boat was poaching in the Philippines' territorial waters and had turned off its voyage data recorder (VDR).

James Sha, head of the Fisheries Agency, said the data transcribed from the VDR showed that the Manila media "has been lying."

He said the data supported Taiwan's account of where the the fishing boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was operating at the time of the incident.

The boat was at Taiwan's southernmost territorial line at around latitude 20 degrees north, and the VDR was being renewed every three minutes, Sha said.

"The latitude 20 degrees north location is around 40 to 50 nautical miles from the Philippine islands and is by no means in the Philippines' territorial waters," Sha said.

The Philippines' territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the Philippine archipelago, he added.

He challenged Manila to present evidence that the Taiwanese boat had turned off its VDR and entered Philippines territorial waters.

Meanwhile, the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office said Tuesday the VDR on the Taiwanese boat had been functioning normally.

The VDR was turned on and was functioning normally from May 4, when the boat left Siaoliouciou 15 km west of Tungkang, Pingtung County, until the vessel was towed back to the coral island at 3:30 a.m. May 11, the prosecutors said.

They said the VDR had been recording the latitude and longitude of the ship's location and its speed every three minutes.

"From the data, it is clear that the boat's entire journey was in our economic zone and it did not enter the Philippines' territorial waters," one prosecutor said.

The prosecutors said that under a mutual legal assistance program, they are willing to help Filipino investigators conduct a probe, on condition of parity and reciprocity.

But they also expressed the hope that Manila will allow Taiwan investigators to view the video footage shot by the Filipino vessels, and other evidence it deems necessary, so as to clarify the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident.

On Manila's request for another autopsy on the fisherman's body, the prosecutors said they had videotaped an autopsy that was conducted May 11 by coroners in Taiwan.

If necessary, the prosecutors said, they can provide Philippine investigators with the written report and video recording of the autopsy, but this would have to be done through the mutual legal assistance mechanism.

(By Kuo Chu-chen and Lilian Wu)
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