‘Up­hold boat­men’s rights’

Ecuador court gives 20 Chi­nese crew 4 yrs in jail

Global Times - Weekend - - NATION - By Zhang Ye and Bai Tiantian

The Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Ecuador urged Ecuador to meet the ba­sic needs of de­tained Chi­nese boat­men and re­spect their le­git­i­mate rights. The boat­men were de­tained in con­nec­tion with the al­leged ship­ment of en­dan­gered species at a pro­tected area.

Am­bas­sador Wang Yulin said dur­ing an in­ter­view with Ecuadorean na­tional news agency An­des Thurs­day lo­cal time that the ship was not in­volved in illegal fish­ing be­cause “it was con­firmed that this was not a fish­ing but a transport ves­sel.”

And the crew mem­bers have ev­i­dence to show that the ship’s cargo was ob­tained from two ships at high sea, 1,000 kilo­me­ters away from the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands, Wang said.

Zhang Xian­liang, direc­tor of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture’s bureau of fish­eries, told the Global Times that the ves­sel en­tered the Gala­pa­gos Ma­rine Re­serve to take shel­ter from the wind.

All Chi­nese ocean fish­ing ves­sels have been in­stalled with ship posi- tion mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems, and the ships have to re­port their lo­ca­tions to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture ev­ery day, Zhang said.

“Our ship po­si­tion in­for­ma­tion showed that no Chi­nese ships have fished in the wa­ter of Ecuador,” Zhang said.

On Au­gust 13, the Chi­ne­se­flagged ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 was de­tained for al­leged illegal fish­ing off the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands, where they were caught with 6,600 en­dan­gered sharks.

The le­git­i­mate rights of the seized crew at the Gala­pa­gos San Cris­to­bal Is­land de­ten­tion cen­ter “were not be­ing pro­tected,” Wang said.

“In the past 10 days, Ecuador has not pro­vided food to them, and they can only cook for them­selves,” Wang noted.

An Ecuadorean judge has re­port­edly sen­tenced the 20 Chi­nese boat­men to up to four years in prison for illegal fish­ing off the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands and fined them $5.9 mil­lion.

Wang said that the Chi­nese side is con­cerned about the hasty trial held between Au­gust 25 and 27.

For in­stance, the judge did not in­form the Chi­nese crew of their le­git­i­mate rights be­fore the trial and post­poned the open­ing of the trial by a day, vi­o­lat­ing lo­cal laws. Dur­ing the trial, lo­cal of­fi­cials made ground­less re­marks and sought un­rea­son­able com­pen­sa­tion, Wang noted.

Wang Yamin, a pro­fes­sor at Shan­dong Uni­ver­sity’s School of Oceanog­ra­phy, ques­tioned the court de­ci­sion to ap­ply Ecuador’s laws to this case. “The pun­ish­ment should not be that harsh in ei­ther in­ter­na­tional or Chi­nese law,” he told the Global Times. “The ship was de­tained out­side Ecuador’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. Ecuador may be in­tend­ing to de­clare its sovereignty [in the area].”

China at­taches great im­por­tance to the in­ci­dent and ex­pects the Ecuador side to en­sure the fair­ness and jus­tice of the trial as well as pro­tect the ba­sic hu­man­i­tar­ian needs and le­git­i­mate rights of the Chi­nese crew, the am­bas­sador stressed.

“China will com­mu­ni­cate with Ecuador in a frank man­ner to avoid dam­ag­ing the good re­la­tions between the two coun­tries,” he said.

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