CAIRO: Twenty-nine Egyptian fishermen were fined 5,000 EGP ($700) each by a Sudanese court Thursday for trespassing in its territorial waters, Youm7 reported.
Anyone who fails to pay the fine will be sentenced to two years in jail, according to the ruling issued by Port Sudan Criminal Court.
The defendants are among 105 Egyptian fishermen and sailors who were arrested by the Sudanese naval authorities April 9 over the allegation of encroaching into Sudanese waters without permission.
“They were onboard three fishing boats heading to Eritrea for fishing after their captains obtained fishing permissions from the local authorities in Eritrea,” head of the fishermen’s union in Egypt’s Delta governorate of Dakahlia Taha al-Sheredy told Youm7.
Sheredy insisted that the three fishing boats were sailing in international waters, not Sudanese territorial waters, adding that Sudanese naval forces opened fire on the boats but no casualties were reported in the shooting.
The court is currently making a decision on 35 other Egyptian fishermen facing charges in the same case, according to Youm7.
“The Egyptian embassy and consulate have both followed the trial,” Egyptian Ambassador to Sudan Osama Shaltot was quoted by Youm7. He added that the sentences that were handed to the fishermen are preliminary and will be appealed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly urged Egyptian fishermen to respect other countries’ territorial waters and called on them to obtain fishing permits in advance before entering other neighboring countries’ territorial waters in order not to risk losing their boats, paying a fine, or being arrested.