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Originally published Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 1:44 PM

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Raising stakes in fight with China, Philippines jails fishermen

The Philippines said Saturday it had imprisoned 11 Chinese fishermen who were caught with endangered sea turtles in a part of the South China Sea that is claimed by both nations.


The New York Times

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HONG KONG — Raising the stakes in its confrontation with China, the Philippines said Saturday it had imprisoned 11 Chinese fishermen who were caught with endangered sea turtles in a part of the South China Sea that is claimed by both nations.

The fishermen were seized Tuesday by the Philippine National Police, who found the 350 marine turtles after intercepting the fishing boat off Half Moon Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

The run-in has been overshadowed by a clash between Chinese and Vietnamese ships 120 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam, where China has been setting up an oil rig in waters claimed by both nations. In that case, Chinese ships fired water cannons at Vietnamese Sea Guard ships that had confronted the Chinese vessels, and both countries say the other’s ships rammed theirs.

The fishermen who were detained by the Philippines face prison terms ranging from 12 to 20 years. They are being held on charges of violating wildlife protection laws.

“They will remain in detention until the office of the provincial prosecutor has determined whether there is probable cause for the filing of formal charges,” Allen Ross Rodriguez, a government lawyer, told The Associated Press.

The jailing of the fishermen came as Asian leaders were gathering in Myanmar for a regularly scheduled ASEAN meeting at which China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims of maritime areas claimed by other countries are expected to be a major topic.



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