Vietnamese fishermen to stand trial in Philippines for territorial violation

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One hundred and twenty-two Vietnam fishermen will stand a two-day trial in the Philippines on August 24 for allegedly violating the country's territorial waters, according to a Vietnamese businessman who had hired them.

Filipino police arrested the fishermen, all from the central province of Binh Thuan, when they arrived in the country's waters on May 30 on seven boats for fishing under a contract with Ho Chi Minh City-based Long Hai Long Company.

Phan Van Thoai, the director of the company, is now in the Philippines to handle the case.

Thoai told Thanh Nien on Friday that after signing with the fishermen, he signed a contract with the Philippines-based Premiere International Interfishing to acquire a license for the fishing.

However, local police said the papers the fishermen presented upon their arrival weren't legal under the Philippines' law.

Thoai said that since the arrest he hasn't been able to contact his partner, Kho Tho Min, who represented the company in signing the contract and since left for Malaysia.

If they can't prove that the Filipino partner cheated them, it's very likely that the fishermen will lose their equipment and stay in prison, according to Thoai.

Also Friday, a consul staff member from Vietnam's embassy in Manila told Thanh Nien that the embassy is working with the Philippines' presidential office and justice ministry to release the fishermen as quick as possible.

Next week, Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu will go to Palawa province to work with local authorities and court and meet the fishermen there as well, according to the official.

Meanwhile, Huynh Van Hung, chairman of Phu Quy District's People's Committee, said that the fishermen's families have sent letters to local authorities, asking for help.

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