Court imposes $37k fine on Bougainville boats, crews
By ANDREW FANASIA
THE Master of two Bougainville service boats with its four crew members were being fined $37,770 after illegally entering Solomon waters on an emergency trip in the Western Province.
They appeared before the Gizo Magistrate court on Friday which they all pleaded guilty for their offence and were all locked up at the Gizo police station.
Despite the decision by the court some police have questioned the whole process of this matter.
They said that Solomon Islands Immigration Department has illegally arrested and detained the captain and his crews.
The master of the two Bougainville service boats Andrew Kilvert also described the arrest as illegal and has the potential to damage the Solomon Islands reputation both with the International Maritime community and with neighbouring Bougainville.
The Solomon Star understands that the two boats were apprehended after entering the Solomons to carry out emergency repairs on the one of their service boats in Liapari.
“Under International Maritime Law coastal nations are required to provide safe port to a foreign vessels in distress and vessel requiring assistance,” Kilvert told this paper from Gizo.
This paper also understands that these two boats provide a life saving transport service to the Bougainville atolls as well as provide medical evacuation and carrying search and rescue for stricken vessels requiring assistance.
“In some cases lives of those saved have been Solomon Islanders,” Kilvert said.
A police man who spoke in the condition of anonymity told this paper that in this case Solomon Islands Immigration Department is behaving as a bad neighbour in flaunting its responsibilities under international law.
Kilvert however said they would like to know why Solomon Islands Immigration Department is behaving this way as if they were criminals in Solomon waters.
“And also we would like to know why the responsible authority is able to make such a bad decision,” he further added.