The High Court, Dar es Salaam Zone yesterday sentenced two foreign nationals to 30 years in jail or payment of 22bn/- in fines for illegally fishing in and contaminating Tanzanian waters.
The court also ordered seizure of the Taiwanese vessel, Tawariq1 which was impounded by the government in early 2009 on Tanzania’s exclusive economic zone.
Reading the verdict, Judge Augustine Mwarija sentenced Hsu Chin Tai the ship's captain who was accused number one and Zhao Hinguin, the ship's agent, accused number seven to a total of 30 years imprisonment or payment of 22bn/- in fines while the other three accused were acquitted of the charges.
The court sentenced each to a fine of 1bn/- or going to jail for 20 years for the first offence.
Judge Mwarija also found Hsu Chintai guilty of contaminating territorial waters with fish waste products hence sentencing him to 10 years imprisonment or payment of a fine of 20bn/-.
The Judge freed the three other accused Cia Dong Li, Chen Rui Hai, and Hsei Sheng Pao.
The court ordered the seizure of the Taiwanese vessel under section 18 (1) of the fishing Act which Judge Mwarija explained allows the court to hold any vessel found illegally fishing in the Indian ocean part of Tanzania.
The Judge also clarified that there would be no order to require the products like fish which were taken and distributed to different organisations to be returned.
State Attorney Biswalo Mganga asked the Judge to impose a deterrent sentence on the accused as a lesson to others. He also requested seizure of the vessel because it has caused more damage and loss to the government.
The defence counsel Ibrahim Bendela asked for a lenient sentence to the accused because of the good relations between Tanzania and China and the fact that the accused have already spent three years in prison.
The Judge said the sentence had considered both sides’ submissions and imposed a minimum sentence.
It was not immediately clear whether they would appeal the sentence as the two were whisked away by prison officials.
According to the charge sheet the other accused were captain of the vessel Hsu Chin Tai (61), seamen Jiojwen Chang (34), Jia Yin Zhao (26), Gexi Zhao (36), Zongmin Ma (36), Dong Liu (25), Yongiao Fang Fang (22) and Nguyen Tuan (23) - all Chinese.
Others are Tran Van Phuong (33), Pham Dinn Suong (31), Tran Van Thanh (23), Cao Vuong (27), Mohamed Kiki (61), Anul Mani (24), Jejen Priyana (22) and Indonesian Kuntoto Suratno (27).
Other are seamen Tusi Ame (25), Ifan Herman Pandi (21), Kristopher Padilla (29), Silvano Garanes (32), Benjamin Jrbaoalan (33), Benjie Rosano (34), Igancio Dacumos (31), Maronon (33), Jhoan Belano (34), Rolando Nacis (35), Ali Ali Mkota (32), Kenyan Juma Juma Kumu (40), Jackson Sirya (39), Zho Haning (39), Hsu Sheng Pao (35) and Zha Hanquing.
It is alleged that jointly within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Tanzania at latitude 06.29, 45 and longitude 43 10.9E, latitude 7 46S and longitude 43 25E and latitude 8 05S and longitude 43 10E they did fish without a licence different species of fish weighing 100 tones worth 650m/-, the property of the country.
It was further alleged that the offence was committed on March 8, 2009, at the exclusive economic zone of Tanzania.
In the second count, it was further alleged that Hsu Chin Tai did erase a fishing track on the global position system (GPS) with intention to cancel information on the fishing vessel movements and activities.