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Turkish Navy arrests 5 fishermen, forces Cypriot boat to illegally occupied North

A warship of the Turkish Navy arrested five fishermen on board of a Cypriot boat on Friday morning. The fishermen were on board of a boat in international waters in the sea area off  the North-West of Cyprus.

The fishermen were forced to sail the boat to the port of Kyrenia in the illegally occupied North, where they remain in custody also on Saturday morning.

Cyprus is trying to secure the release of five fishermen and the issue has taken international dimensions as the fishermen are Egyptian nationals.

According to local media,  the Turkish warship navy vessel asked to board and search the boat and then obliged the crew to sail to the occupied port of Kyrenia.

Aristos Aristidou, owner of the Cypriot company Ta Psarokaika which owns the fishing boat, told the Cyprus News Agency that the boat was in international waters between Akamas and Kormakitis when it was approached by a Turkish navy ship. Soldiers boarded the boat to carry out checks, telling the crew that they were under arrest, he said.

Aristidou said that all competent state authorities have been informed and efforts are underway to secure the release of the crew and the return of the boat.

He said it was the fourth incident involving the Turkish navy.

In three previous occasions, Turkish navy ships had harassed his fishing vessels in international waters and forced them to leave the area.

The latest harassment took place just 15 days ago.

The Cyprus government is making efforts through the UN to secure the fishermen release.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said “it is a serious incident” and the government has already lodged a protest with the United Nations.

The UN said it was in touch with both sides in a bid to resolve the issue.

At the same time the Cypriot Foreign Ministry  has informed the Embassy of Egypt in Nicosia.

Saturday morning, the company said that the five fishermen were to appeared before a court in the occupied North. “We do not know what charges will be pressed against the fishermen of Epyptian nationality,” Pampos Mitidis told media.

The fishing boat had sailed from Limassol, where company Ta Psarokaika has its fleet.

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