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    Indonesian navy officers reportedly ask for USD375,000 to release tanker

    THE STRAITS TIMES – Indonesian naval officers have asked for USD375,000 to release a fuel tanker they detained last week for anchoring illegally in Indonesian waters off Singapore, two people involved in negotiations over the unofficial payment said.

    The incident comes after Reuters reported a dozen similar detentions last year. In those cases, the ship owners made unofficial payments of about USD300,000 each and the vessels detained by the Indonesian navy east of Singapore were released.

    The Nord Joy fuel tanker was boarded by armed navy personnel on May 30 while anchored in Indonesian waters to the east of the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the two security sources said.

    Asked to comment on whether naval officers had asked for USD375,000 to release the Nord Joy, Indonesian navy spokesman Julius Widjojono said it had conducted an investigation into the allegation and hadn’t found “any indication” of such a request.

    He said collecting unofficial payments to release vessels was “strictly prohibited”. He confirmed navy personnel had detained the Nord Joy on suspicion of anchoring in Indonesian waters without a permit, violating Indonesian sea passage rights and sailing without a national flag. “The initial information is that (the case) is still in the initial investigation process at Batam naval base,” he said.

    Under Indonesian law, anchoring without a permit carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison for the captain of a vessel and a IDR200 million fine, Widjojono said.

    The Nord Joy is a Panama-flagged vessel, 183m long and can carry up to 350,000 barrels of fuel. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES
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