14 fishermen released from Tunisian custody, 2 await trial

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The Egyptian ambassador to Tunisia announced on Tuesday that 14 fishermen were released from custody and have boarded a flight to Egypt, after being held over illegal fishing in Tunisia’s regional waters.

According to local state media, ambassador Nabil Habashi said that two others remain in detention pending trial, including the captain of the boat. The “Malak Al-Bahr” fishing boat was seized earlier in January, according to the report.

Another boat, “El Eman Bellah,” was also suspended by Tunisian authorities in October 2016 over accusations of illegal fishing in Tunisian regional waters, when a court in the city of Sfax decided to postpone settling their case due to the sit-in organised by Tunisian judges. The boat carried 16 fishermen.

While 13 of the 16 fishermen were released, the captain and two others had to wait for a court’s verdict regarding the boat. The trial was held in January and ended in a fine of 30,000 Tunisian dinars.

The detention of Egyptian fishermen in neighbouring countries, including Yemen and Libya, has frequently occurred despite the repeated warnings issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fishermen from trespassing in unauthorised fishing zones.

The deterioration of fisheries in Egypt is believed to be the trigger behind the increased influx of Egyptian fishermen travelling to regional waters outside of Egyptian territory.

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