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Five Indian fishermen sent to jail in Qatar

Dubai: Five Bahrain-based Indian fishermen have been sentenced to prison for a month in Doha for illegally entering into Qatar`s waters.

Indian Embassy in Doha has warned fishermen from crossing international waters, due to their increasing numbers being detained in such cases.

The fishermen, who were in a group of eight, were caught by Qatar coastguards on June 2, local media reports said.

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Those given one-month sentence were identified as Silvapillai Rajaratnam, Mois Pappiose, Alphons Raj, Maria Robin Raj and Robin Pious.

Indian ambassador Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa stressed that fishermen should be aware of the implications of crossing international waters.

"Most of the fishermen stray into Qatari waters unintentionally due to weather conditions or other problems.

The embassy and community here are always ready to help them if they are detained by the officials," she said

"But there are judicial procedures and legal action they will have to face.

If they are detained or imprisoned, their livelihood is affected, hence they should be careful," she was quoted by The Peninsula as saying.

The cases related to the three other members of the group, vessel`s captain Maria Vitamind, Nelson Babu and Stephen Raj, will be taken up on July 21.

Dozens of fishermen from neighbouring countries have been regularly arrested by Qatar`s coastguards for reportedly entering Qatari waters illegally.

Some 34 Indians including three females are currently serving sentences in prisons here, while some 150 including eight women are at the deportation centre.

A group of 24 other fishermen had also strayed into Qatari waters on six other fishing vessels. However, the cases related to those fishermen are over and most of them have returned to Bahrain.

Nizar Kochery, the lawyer for the fishermen and regional co-coordinator of the South Asian Fishermen?s Fraternity (SAFF), said the convicted fishermen would stay in detention for the next month, having remained free during their trial.

He added that they had no intention to appeal against the judgment.

"The embassy and Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) have been following the case closely," an official said adding that they also took care of the fisherman during the trial.

"The fishermen were released and housed in a temporary accommodation during the procedures, and they were supplied with food and money until they were sentenced," the official was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Currently there are five fishermen here, who strayed into Qatari waters in 2010, and one of them has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment which will end in 2012, the report said.

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