Chinese fisherman killed in Palau shooting

The fisherman died in a hail of bullets designed to stop a Chinese vessel fishing illegally in Palau waters.

Updated: Apr 02, 2012, 20:31 PM IST

Koror: Palau police shot dead a Chinese
fisherman and three men in a police spotter plane were feared
killed in a dramatic confrontation off the Pacific island,
officials said on Monday.

The fisherman died in a hail of bullets designed to stop
a Chinese vessel fishing illegally in Palau waters, according
to charges filed by assistant attorney general Timothy
McGillicuddy.

Palau President Johnson Toribiong confirmed a pilot and
two police officers were missing 48 hours after their plane
crashed while searching for the fishing fleet`s mothership,
which had been set alight.

Five men, believed to be all Chinese, were taken from the
burning ship and have been charged with unlawful entry and
illegal fishing in Palau waters, according to the charge
sheet.

Police officers from Palau`s Fish and Wildlife Division
fired warning shots at the fishing boat when it ignored pleas
to stop after being detected near a conservation area at dawn
on Saturday.

"The confrontation included an officer involved shooting
and one of the six individuals on the green fishing boat later
succumbed to injuries he obtained during the confrontation,"
police officer Helenda Oimei said in an affidavit.

Toribiong issued a statement in which he did not mention
the shooting or arrests but said a US-licensed pilot and two
police officers were missing after their aircraft crashed.

More than three hours after the aircraft was due to
return, the pilot radioed that his navigational systems had
failed and he was running out of fuel.

"They left on a police mission to film the area where a
PRC (China) mothership involved in the raid of Kayangel
State`s marine resources was burned by its own crew to destroy
the ship and its cargo," Toribiong said.

"Officer Earl Decherong, one of the two police officers
on board, using a radio telephone, called to say they were
gliding to make a water landing and that they could see no
light or land."

There had been no sign of the plane nor the three men
despite an extensive search, the president said.

Palau closely guards its territorial waters after
declaring the world`s first shark sanctuary in 2009, banning
shark fishing in its exclusive economic zone, which covers
almost 630,000 square kilometres of the northern Pacific.

PTI