JAKARTA - Singapore fishing boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat, who has been detained in a Tanjung Pinang jail since last April, was fined 50 million rupiah, or S$5,300, after pleading guilty to entering Indonesia illegally.
But he still remains in prison, despite agreeing to pay the fine, said Shoo's lawyer after his sentencing hearing on Tuesday (Jan 17) because the Indonesian Navy intends to pursue a case of sailing without a permit against him.
This would be the second time Indonesian authorities are going after Shoo - for a different offence - since he was acquitted of illegal fishing in July last year.
At first, Shoo was visibly relieved when told by the judge that he would be freed and may return home, after he pays the fine.
But his joy was short-lived when he learned that his passport had been handed over to the Navy as part of a separate investigation against him, which neither he nor his lawyer were aware of.
As a result of Tuesday's (Jan 17) developments, Shoo's lawyer Herman Black has advised his client against paying the fine.
"It's useless to pay for the fine if Mr Shoo still cannot return to Singapore," he said.
Mr Herman added that he has since updated the Singapore's consulate in Batam about the case but his client will still have to wait for the prosecution to decide on whether it will proceed with the Navy's allegations.
Shoo was ferrying 13 recreational anglers from Singapore and Malaysia on the MV Selin on April 16 last year when the boat was stopped by the Navy NEAR Tanjung Berakit, Bintan island, for trespassing.
All 13 passengers were deported a week later but Shoo was charged with illegal fishing in Indonesian waters. A court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of an offence under the Fisheries Act, and acquitted him LAST July.
Instead of being released, he was charged with an immigration offence of entering Indonesia illegally, which he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday (Jan 17), in hope of being able to put the saga behind him.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been monitoring Shoo's case with concern and had sought clarification from Indonesia on the legal basis for his detention.
This article was first published on Jan 17, 2017.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.