Twenty-two Bahrain-based fishermen have been fined a combined total of BD11,200 for illegally straying into Qatari territorial waters.

The men have been held in Al Khor jail in Doha since October 6, when they travelled in seven different boats before they were intercepted by Qatari coastguards at Al Ruwais.

Twelve of them appeared in a Doha court yesterday while the other 10 were convicted by the same court on October 18.

The captain was penalised with a BD700 fine and the rest were given fines of BD500 each.

The court has also instructed their Bahraini sponsors to expedite the process of paying the amount.

“Eleven fishermen were yesterday fined 5,000 Qatari riyals (BD500) each while the captain of the boat was fined 7,000 Qatari riyals (BD700) by the prosecutor’s court in Doha,” said an Indian Embassy official in Bahrain.

He told the GDN yesterday their counterparts in Doha were instructed by the Indian External Affairs Ministry to extend all assistance in facilitating the legal process.

“There are a total of four Bahraini employers, who have been notified to pay the fines and ensure their men can return,” he added.

“Indian Embassy officials in Doha have visited the men in prison and they are hale and hearty.”

The fishermen are Antony Lourdhaya, Justin Raapan, Shaji Michael, Saijumon James, Jennifer Francis, Xavier Vincent, Antony Michael, Sahaya Suman, George, Michael Raj, Sahaya Antony, Sunder Theons, Thadeuse Siluvai Irudhayam, Antony Soosaiadimai, Suthan Vincent, Johnson Anthonidhasan, Anto Jermans, Sesu Alex Raymond, David Peter, George Kosman, Antony George Mathes Pillai and Subin Melis, according to Doha-based Gulf Times.

All the men hail from Kanyakumari district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Their case was taken up last week by the Tamil Nadu-based South Asian Fishermen Fraternity, which urged the Indian government to protect the welfare of about 10,000 fishermen working in Bahrain and neighbouring Gulf states.

Its legal co-ordinator Nizar Kochery and Qatar lawyer Abdulla Ansari represented the fishermen during their court hearing yesterday and said they expected the sponsors to pay the fines.

Diplomats earlier said the arrest of fishermen for straying into international waters was a recurring problem.

The GDN reported in June last year that diplomats intervened to secure the release of 35 fishermen, who reportedly entered Qatar’s territorial waters by mistake.

2012 Gulf Daily news