Sea patrol team grilled over alleged bribery: Indonesia

INDONESIA - As many as 27 sea patrol crew are under investigation for allegedly receiving US$4,000 (S$5000) in bribes from the crew of a Vietnamese vessel, which was caught illegally fishing in Tarempa waters, Riau Islands.

Martime and Fisheries Resourcese Monitoring Task Force (PSDKP) chief Syahrin Abdurrahman said on Thursday that his agency had withdrawn two naval ships that had been operating around Natuna and Anambas islands for further investigation.

"I have ordered the two naval ships, along with their crew members to go back to Jakarta. We will conduct an internal investigation," said Syahrin.

"If they are found guilty of receiving bribes, we will punish them. We have also halted the patrols around Natuna and Anambas until we find out who is causing trouble in the area."

Riau Islands Prosecutor's Office head Josia Koni had grown suspicious of the alleged bribery as the number of arrested illegal foreign vessels had been on the decline since 2010, while in fact illegal fishing was still rampant in Riau Islands' waters.

"We will continue our investigation. The officials and the mafia have to be brought to justice," said Josia.