JAKARTA: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has expressed his regret to his Indonesian counterpart Dr Marty Natalegawa over the harsh sentence imposed by a court in Bengkalis, Riau on six Malaysian fishermen who were charged with encroaching into Indonesian waters on March 8.
Anifah said the penalty imposed on the fishermen did not reflect the agreement reached at the bilateral meeting in Kota Kinabalu last year on the tolerance adopted by the authorities of the two countries on fishing in the maritime border which was still being disputed.
“The jail sentence of 30 months on each fisherman and a fine of Rp1 billion (RM350,000) in lieu of three months’ jail was too excessive…I feel so bad because they are fishermen,” he said, expressing his regret over the case which could not be resolved before the fishermen were charged in court.
The sentiment was conveyed at the meeting with Natalegawa on the sidelines of the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, here yesterday.
The Foreign Minister said that he had previously contacted Natalegawa personally to seek the cooperation of the Indonesian government to release the fishermen before they were charged in court. — Bernama