Claim to their seized boats was delaying the release of 34 fishermen from Nagapattinam and Karaikal who have been languishing in a Point Pedro prison in Jaffna district since the end of July for poaching in Lankan waters, an official source in Jaffna said.
“They have been released and yet not released,” Express was told on Thursday. The Point Pedro Magistrate had ruled that the fishermen should be released, but their boats would not be returned until an inquiry was conducted into their claim. The case was posted to September 26.
T Vinoth, who said he was counsel for the 41 TN fisherman in the Mannar prison, told Express that the fishermen in question had decided not to plead guilty to the charge of crossing the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) because they feared repercussions back home in Tamil Nadu.
However, officials discounted this claim, saying that the fishermen had no counsel to speak on their behalf.
The Lankan government had recently taken a policy decision to release intruding TN and Puducherry fishermen, but keep their boats to prevent them from coming back to Lankan waters. However, it is likely that the boats will be released after an inquiry.