His Majesty pardons nine Vietnamese fishermen
By Siti Hajar

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to grant royal pardon to nine Vietnamese fishermen who were recently found guilty of straying into Brunei's waters.

In an interview with the Vietnamese Ambassador to Brunei, Mr Pham Binh Man, yesterday, he explained that the gesture was made when His Majesty received the visiting Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in an audience Tuesday.

"His Majesty consented to grant pardon to the fishermen (and to release) their fishing vessel," said the ambassador. "Formalities are currently being carried out and hopefully they will be released soon."

Eight of the men were each fined $750 or a months' incarceration in default of payment whilst the master of vessel was fined $10,000 or a year behind bars in default at the Bandar Magistrate's Court on February 4, 2012 after they were discovered fishing 60 nautical miles off Brunei's coast in January by personnel of the Royal Brunei Navy who were patrolling the area.

According to an online article dated February 1, 2012, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry had ordered the Vietnamese Embassy in Brunei to ensure the protection of the detainees' rights and interest through coordination with other relevant agencies whilst the Consular Department in Vietnam submitted a diplomatic note to the Brunei Embassy in Hanoi on January 28 with regards and in relation to the fishermen's situation. - Borneo Bulletin (9th February 2012)