CAIRO: The Sudanese Prosecution ordered Thursday to release 100 Egyptian fishermen detained in April for allegedly trespassing in Sudanese waters, the Chairman of Independent Fishermen Syndicate in Matariya Taha el-Rasheedy told The Cairo Post.
Rasheedy said that he is expecting the released fishermen to be deported to Egypt within the coming days.
“The Sudanese decision came after excessive negotiations between both Egyptian and Sudanese authorities over the past days,” added Rasheedy.
Sudan had previously commuted prison sentences and a 5,000 EGP ($638) fine against the Egyptian fishermen over charges of crossing into Sudanese waters.
The fishermen, however, were still standing trial in Sudan on charges of spying; their hearing was adjourned to July 28, Youm7 reported Wednesday.
The former head of the syndicate, Naseem Badr el-Din, told The Cairo Post that the fishermen were “wrongly detained” and that they were captured in international waters on their way to Eritrea.
“The fishermen had prior authorization for fishing in Eritrea,” El-Din added. “Some reports claimed that the fishermen have been held in exchange for the Sudanese miners who were arrested in Egypt over illegal mining activities.”
The total number of the detained fishermen in Sudan was 101; the last fishermen was reportedly kept in custody pending investigations, a source at the Syndicate told The Cairo Post on condition of anonymity.
The source added that the fishermen were accused of spying.
The remaining fisherman took a picture to prove they were arrested in the international waters, said the source, adding that the fisherman was accused of “taking pictures of Sudanese military sites.”
More Egyptian fishermen held over crossing territorial waters
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Egyptian fishermen against fishing in regional waters, and directed them to respect regional boundaries between countries in a Wednesday statement.
The statement specified states that witness conflicts like Libya and Yemen or facing terrorist threats like Tunisia. The ministry’s statement also warned that Tunisian authorities are raising measures of dealing with territorial waters infiltration to immediate fire.
A total of 32 Egyptian fishermen are being held by Tunisian and Libyan coast guards over crossing into territorial waters of both countries.
In two separate incidents, the fishermen were detained on board of two boats. The first boat, the Princess Mona, carrying 16 fishermen, was seized in Libya’s Misrata in June. The Libyan coast guards opened fire against the boat, killing one fisherman; 15 others were arrested, the head of the Fishermen Syndicate Ahmed Nassar told The Cairo Post.
The other boat, the Hadj Galal, was carrying 17 fishermen and was seized July 17 in similar circumstances.
“The fishermen mistakenly entered the Tunisian waters after a malfunction in their navigation devices,” Nassar explained.
He added that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has contacted its Tunisian counterpart to reach an agreement to release the detained fishermen.