Some 22 Indian fishermen from Bahrain who were arrested by the Qatar Coast Guard for straying into the country’s waters face criminal charges that could result in three years of jail time and a fine of up to QR50,000, Gulf Times reports.
The crew members, who were arrested on Oct. 7, will appear in court in two batches on Oct. 18 in Oct. 22.
Charges against them include exploitation of the country’s water wealth, violating Qatar’s boundaries through illegal routes and entering the country’s territory illegally, Nizar Kochery, Doha-based rights activist and regional co-ordinator of the South Asian Fishermen’s Fraternity (SAFF) told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the families of the men are panicking about their fate, despite reassurances from Indian officials that the matter will be resolved quickly.
Times of India reports:
P Justin Antony of the Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Trust in Kanyakumari said the fear was because of incidents in 2010 when 49 fishermen arrested by Qatar officials on various dates had to spend five months to one year in prison.
“So the families are scared their relatives may also end up in prison for longer terms. We have taken it up with Fisheries Department of the state government. The department has taken measures and intimated the Qatar Embassy in New Delhi,” he said.