Wednesday, May 12

Malaysian fisherman released after three-and-half-year prison sentence

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JAKARTA: After serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for catching fish weighing 20kg in Indonesian waters, Malaysian fisherman Ibrahim @ Awang Pa Deraman from Pantai Remis, Perak was finally released from a prison in Medan, North Sumatra, last Saturday.

His release was earlier than the four-year sentence meted out, possible only after the Consulate-General of Malaysia in Medan obtained approval for his remission from the Indonesian authorities.

Ibrahim, 58, who originated from Bachok, Kelantan, was sentenced to three years and six months in jail by a court in Medan in 2009 and a fine of Rp2 billion (RM700,000) or additional six months in jail, after he was found guilty of catching 20kg of fish in Indonesian territorial waters on Jan 25, 2009.

It is said that the area was part of the Malaysia-Indonesia maritime boundaries which have not been resolved.

Malaysian Consul General in Medan Norlin Othman said Ibrahim was the last Malaysian fisherman to be released from prison in Sumatra and hoped no others would share the same fate in the future.

“We hope with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on joint guidelines between Malaysia and Indonesia to tackle the issue of fishermen in the maritime boundaries, our fishermen will no longer be arrested and jailed here,” she told Bernama when contacted here.

On Jan 27 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Malaysia and Indonesia inked an MoU on guidelines on the treatment of fishermen by the Malaysian and Indonesian maritime enforcement agencies.

The guideline states, among others, that both authorities will not nab fishermen from either country for straying in unresolved maritime boundaries, but will instead be asked to leave the area.

The MoU was following an agreement reached by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a meeting in Lombok in October last year to preserve the wellbeing of fishermen from both countries.

Norlin said the penalty imposed by Indonesian authorities on Malaysian fishermen, be it a prison sentence or fine, was much heavier than the penalty imposed by Malaysian authorities on Indonesian fishermen for the same offence. Vice-Consulate General of Malaysia in Medan, Nor Azhar Hajis said, Ibrahim’s release took a long process after Norlin sent a letter to the Indonesian authorities on July 4 last year for the fisherman’s reduced sentence.

“We finally received the result in a letter dated March 1 which stated that Ibrahim completes his sentence on March 10 (last Saturday),” he said.

Without a remission, Ibrahim would only be released early next year. He carried out his prison sentence in the Tanjong Gusta Prison, Medan.

Ibrahim’s family in Malaysia has been informed of the release and the Consulate General of Malaysia will assist in preparing his travel documents to allow him to return home latest by Wednesday, he added.

He said the family members will welcome his arrival at the KL International Airport (KLIA) once his return date is fixed. — Bernama