Go to contents

Coast Guard complains over early release of Chinese crew

Coast Guard complains over early release of Chinese crew

Posted December. 28, 2010 01:02,   


Korea Coast Guard insiders have complained over the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry’s bid to repatriate without punishment three crewmen of the Chinese fishing boat Liaoningwi 35403.

The vessel intentionally rammed into a South Korean patrol boat to help other Chinese fishing boats elude capture. Korean maritime police, whose duty is to crack down on illegal fishing within Korea’s exclusive economic zone, fear more illegal violent protests by Chinese fishing boats.

An officer onboard a patrol boat told The Dong-A Ilbo Sunday, “Crewmen of the Chinese fishing boats that fled after the sinking of a Chinese fishing boat brandished knives to resist our legitimate crackdown and injured four officers,” adding, “Since we have video footage documenting such violent activities, we must punish them even by demanding extradition of the criminals from China.”

Another maritime police officer said, “The move apparently was taken at the government level through consultations, but the release of all the crewmen citing lack of public prosecutorial right due to the death of the fishing boat’s captain will lead to an increase in illegal fishing and violence by Chinese fishing boats in the Yellow Sea."

“We cannot understand whether and how they want us to crack down on Chinese fishing boats.”

Others say Seoul should not have repatriated the fishermen early by only considering diplomatic relations at a time when prosecutors have yet to decide on indictment.

A Coast Guard source said, “Chances are high that prosecutors will opt for non-indictment but if they do indict, they cannot punish the fishermen because they have been repatriated. Questions could be raised later over justification of this act (early repatriation).”

The Gunsan headquarters of the Korea Coast Guard released three crewmen of the Liaoningwi Saturday, and thus effectively concluded the investigation into the case. “We booked three crewmen of the Liaoningwi on the charge of obstruction of justice and investigated them. We repatriated them to China after finding that the three other than the captain (who died) did not proactively engage in obstruction of justice,” it said.

The Korea Coast Guard also concluded this after reviewing and analyzing oral testimonies of the fishermen aboard the fishing boat, video footage, raider scope records and navigation logs recorded by the patrol boat.

Korean authorities decided to hand over this week the body of the Liaoningwi captain being held at the Central Funeral Parlor in Gunsan through consultations with the Chinese government and his bereaved family. Search operations will resume to find the crewman who went missing due to the sinking of the boat.

Materials and evidence on the Liaoningwi crew will also be sent to Beijing. The crew fled to Chinese waters after beating South Korean Coast Guard officers in a crackdown on their illegal fishing.