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Taiwan releases report on Indonesian shooting of Taiwanese boat

2016/03/28 20:46:02

The two fishing boats arrive in Singapore March 24.

Taipei, March 28 (CNA) Taiwan's Fisheries Agency issued an official report Monday on a shooting incident involving Taiwanese fishing boats and Indonesian government vessels, saying that the latter caused 17 bullet impacts on the cabin of a Taiwanese fishing boat without warning in the early hours of March 21 in the Strait of Malacca.

In its first official report on the incident, the agency's director-general, Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀), cited the Sheng Te Tsai's voyage data recorders (VDR) as saying that it was sailing at a speed of seven to eight knots -- at which speed it was unlikely to be setting nets and fishing.

The fact that both the Sheng Te Tsai and the Lien I Hsing No. 116 had been sailing at that speed between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. pokes a hole in an Indonesian government claim that the Taiwanese fishing boats were poaching in its territorial waters, Tsay said.

He also quoted the two captains as vowing that neither of them had tried to ram their ships into the Indonesian patrol boats, as had been claimed by the Indonesians.

Agency officials who investigated the two boats found a total of 17 bullet holes and scars, nine of which were outside the cabin, four were outside of the crew's sleeping area, two were inside the cabin, one in the rescue raft and one on the funnel, according to Tsai.

He declined to comment on media reports that the gunfire was meant to kill, saying only that "they were not warning shots -- shots that are fired into the sky."

He questioned if the Indonesian vessels were using their arms in a proper manner. "We will demand an answer from the Indonesians," he said.

Taiwan has also asked the Southeast Asian country to produce evidence that the two Taiwanese fishing boats were poaching and that they attempted to ram its patrol boats.

One way of settling the issue would be for Indonesia to sign a fishery agreement with Taiwan similar to ones Taiwan has signed with Japan and the Philippines, to prevent similar incidents from recurring, he said.

Both Taiwanese boats left Donggang in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, in November last year. They were sailing alongside each other toward Singapore with full fish loads after operating in the open seas to the southeast of Bangladesh 121 days after they left their home base, when what both captains described as the "terrifying" incident occurred.

In Jakarta, Indonesian officials have insisted that the Indonesian patrol boats were acting on standard operating procedure -- issuing a warning before firing at the Taiwanese boats that they suspected of poaching.

Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia's ocean and fisheries minister, said the Indonesian ships had demanded that the Taiwanese boats stop for inspection but the Taiwanese refused.

She denied that the shooting was aimed to kill, as claimed by the captain of the Sheng Te Tsai, Lin Nan-yang (林喃揚).

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced the use of violence and has demanded that Indonesia produce evidence that the Taiwanese fishing boats were acting illegally to the extent that warranted being shot at.

(By Yang Shu-min and S.C. Chang)