Indonesia frees 228 illegal Vietnamese fishermen

By Bui Hong Nhung   September 14, 2016 | 03:33 pm GMT+7

The fishermen were locked up for over three months.

Indonesia released 228 illegal Vietnamese fishermen on Tuesday at a harbor on the Natuna islands, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

This is the first time Indonesia has handed over fishermen at a harbor rather than at Sokarno Hatta International Airport in the capital Jakarta.

This decision should help the fishermen return home quickly, and reduce the pressure illegal fishermen have put on the already overloaded detention centers in Indonesia, according to Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The Vietnamese fishermen are expected to arrive home in the next 4-5 days.

Most of the fishermen were working on offshore fishing boats when they were captured.

Le Van Ut, one of the fishermen, said that he was hired to catch fish, so at first he didn’t know why he was arrested by Indonesian forces. After three months in captivity, he said was very happy to be heading home.

Like Ut, the other fishermen were detained from 3-6 months for fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.

Indonesia said that about 300 Vietnamese fishermen remain in custody on the country's islands.

Sjarief Widjaja, general secretary of Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, called on Vietnamese fishermen to respect the law and protect marine resources for future generations.

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