Vietnamese police prosecute fishermen for taking officials hostage

By Cuu Long   July 6, 2016 | 06:00 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese police prosecute fishermen for taking officials hostage
There are frequent regional conflicts between fishing groups in the southern province of Kien Giang. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long

The bizarre case was supposedly triggered by ongoing disputes over fishing territory between local fishermen.

Kien Giang police on July 6 pressed criminal charges against local fishermen who were responsible for the illegal "arrest" of enforcement officials four days ago.

"We are focusing on finding out who was behind the illegal arrests of officials to continue with our prosecution," said the head of the investigation team.

The fishermen reportedly said the inspection carried out by police and border guard forces was "unusal" so they held the officials because they wanted clarification from Kien Giang authorities.

Other fishermen said that inspections are regualarly carried out by fisheries authorities, but not police or military officers. In addition, the police and border guard forces confisticated their registration documents, but did not make a written report at the scene.

The incident happened on July 2 in Van Khanh Tay Commune where border guard forces and local police detected four boats illegally fishing in the area. During an inspection, one boat refused to cooperate with authorities and left. Two other boats did not have licenses.The patrol force then ordered them to follow them back to the station.

Shortly after, 27 fishing boats from a nearby area encircled the inspection team's boats, attacking them with bricks and stones. Some of them boarded the vessels and beat people with sticks and took away their badges, mobile phones and other equipment.

A total of 11 members of the inspection team, including border guard officers and policemen, were captured and taken to Ha Tien Ward about 40km to the northwest of An Minh Ward.

After receiving information about the situation, Kien Giang's Border Guard Force mobilized other units and coordinated with relevant agencies to chase after the fishermen.

On the evening of July 3, the fishermen agreed to release their captives. Two fishermen and a border guard officer suffered minor injuries.

"The incident was mayhem caused by crazed fishermen. Provincial authorities have ordered an investigation and will strictly punish those responsible." said Mai Anh Nhin, vice chairman of Kien Giang People's Committee.

Nguyen Van Tam, director of Kien Giang’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, told VnExpress that disputes have recently risen between local fishermen and those from Ha Tien over fishing rights in the waters of Van Khanh Tay.

"The incident was mayhem caused by crazed fishermen. Provincial authorities have ordered an investigation and will strictly punish those responsible." said Mai Anh Nhin, vice chairman of Kien Giang People's Committee.

Nguyen Van Tam, director of Kien Giang’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, told VnExpress that disputes have recently risen between local fishermen and those from Ha Tien over fishing rights in the waters of Van Khanh Tay.

“Some locals are selling the rights for different fishing grounds to boats from Ha Tien, which complicates the security in these waters,” Tam said, adding that local authorities are working to stabilize the situation.

He said agencies are working together to resolve the situation to ensure order and security in the area.

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