KANYAKUMARI: As many as 23 Indian fishermen – 14 from Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and nine from Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala – who were detained by the British navy for trespassing into the territorial waters of Diego Garcia have been released.

According to an email communication from British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) officials, the fishermen, who were released from the exclusive economic zone of BIOT on November 7, were sailing back.

The fishermen on two boats — Wisdom and Sacred Heart — sailed from Muttom in Thiruvananthapuram on September 27 and were apprehended by the British navy on charges of trespassing into BIOT waters on October 6. A few days later, they called up their family members to inform them about their arrest.

These fishermen were produced before the magistrate in BIOT and prosecuted with a penalty of fine.

P Justin Antony of International Fishermen Development Trust maintaining email correspondence with BIOT officials said that last communication from them on October 30 stated that fines had been imposed by the magistrate. The magistrate was also of the opinion that the fishing vessels should be detained in Diego Garcia till the fine amount is paid.

However, the latest communication from BIOT confirmed their release. “The administrator and head of BIOT section Tom Moody has written the mail that our fishermen were released on November 7 and are coming back,” Antony said.

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Source: TOI-Che