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Photo: Batam News

Fishing boat captain Ricky Tan returns home after being detained eight months in Indonesia

Tanjungpinang, INDONESIA – Ricky Tan Poh Hui, the captain of the fishing boat Seven Seas Conqueress has been released from the Tanjung Pinang Naval Base.

Mr Tan was released last week after being detained for eight months and he has left Tanjung Pinang Naval Base where he had been detained on Tuesday (2 May).

Batam News reported that Major Josdy Damopoli, a naval base spokesman, said, "He has been detained since August 2016, and is now free to go back to Singapore. He has left Tanjung Pinang,"

On Thursday last week, the Tanjungpinang District Court sentenced the Singapore boat captain for six months of probation and a fine of 5 million rupiah (S$520) for breaching into the Indonesian waters.

According to prosecutors, when arrested by a naval patrol, Mr Tan was driving his vessel in waters off Bintan Island on 20 August last year.

Nine passengers were released 12 days after their ship was arrested. While the 45-year-old captain remained in naval base prison, and his ship was tethered at the naval base on the same day.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had then strongly protested the Indonesian Government’s for Mr Tan’s arrest.

Early on Friday (5 May), The Straits Times reported Mr Tan has arrived at Marina Country Club on the vessel he had been detained on, the Seven Seas Conqueress, in the wee hours of Friday morning.

"I definitely feel relieved," Mr Tan told The Straits Times. He said that although he did not go to prison in Indonesia, he was not allowed to leave the naval base. He lived on his boat with three members of his Indonesian boat crew.

He called home to speak to his mother and daughter almost every day, he said, "I thought about my family every day, especially my daughter."

Mr Tan is the second Singapore ship captain to be involved in Indonesian maritime law after Shoo Chiau Huat. Indonesia.

Mr Shoo, who is captain of MV Selin, was detained by the Indonesian Navy on 16 April 2016 in the waters of Tanjung Berakit, off the coast of Bintan.

In July last year, the court ruled that Mr Shoo was not proven to be fishing illegally, but he was sentenced to immigration after his release.

In January, Mr Shoo admits guilty to accusations of entering Indonesia illegally. Last month he paid a fine in the hope of being released. However, on April 4, he was charged with sailing in Indonesian waters without permission under Indonesian shipping laws.

MFA had also sent a diplomatic letter to his Indonesian counterpart end of last year, expressing concern on Mr Shoo’s extended detention.