Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Government to help out Taiwanese boat skipper

BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government will help a Taiwanese fishing boat skipper standing trial in the Federated States of Micronesia for allegedly operating illegally in the country’s territorial waters two months ago, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Chen Chung-yi (陳仲義), captain of tuna fishing boat the Sheng Feng Yi (聖豐億號), has been detained by authorities in the South Pacific island nation since May 6 for alleged trespassing and poaching.

The case will be brought to trial on Wednesday.

“We hope the case can be resolved satisfactorily in a way that financial constraints on how much the captain can afford to pay in fines is taken into account,” MOFA Deputy Spokesman James Chang (章計平) said in response to an appeal for the government’s assistance in raising money for the lawsuit.

Micronesian authorities had agreed to lower terms of a settlement with Chen after the ministry mediated between the two sides, but Chen refused to agree to the settlement as he was unable to pay a fine of US$33,000 and was resolved to clear his name in court, the ministry said.

Chen was initially fined US$200,000 and asked to pay an additional US$100,000 as a guarantee at a previous trial on June 24.

Saying that the ministry has been in close contact with Chen’s family, Chang added that it will continue to assist Chen with arranging for his lawyers, family or translators to travel to Micronesia.

Seven other Taiwanese crew members were released on May 22 and returned to Taiwan.

The ministry said Micronesian prosecutors will on Wednesday demand that the fishing boat and its catch be confiscated, that Chen pay a fine of US$200,000 in a civil lawsuit as well as a fine of between US$100,000 and US$1 million in a criminal lawsuit.

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