4 Mar 2004

Taiwanese captain jailed for one year in New Caledonia

2:38 pm on 4 March 2004

The captain of a Taiwanese fishing boat has begun a one year jail term in New Caledonia after a court of appeal in Noumea doubled his sentence.

Lin Ven Chang was found guilty of failing to provide assistance to New Caledonians after ramming their vessel off Belep island in a bid to escape interception by a French patrol boat.

The incident occurred last November when the Taiwanese boat was spotted by surveillance aircraft amid suspicion of fishing illegally in New Caledonia's territorial waters.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper reports that the captain's appeal has succeeded in being acquitted of charges of having rammed the New Caledonian boat intentionally.

And the fine imposed by the lower court was cut by the appeal court to less than half.

The issue of who is responsible for the damage caused to the boat may yet go to another court.