The captain of an Estonian fishing trawler, the Roxen, which was impounded in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave in May, has returned to Estonia after being released. He still faces court hearings over the matter, however.
The captain, named as Rezo Kimmel, was seized by Russian authorities together with his crew on May 10, after straying into Russian waters. The Roxen was carrying a full complement of 340 tons of fish, due to be offloaded in Denmark, when it was apprehended by Russian security personnel. About 7.5 tons of fish, mostly sprat, had been caught in Russian waters, and the company and crew faced charges of illegal fishing.
Following negotiations with the Haapsalu-based company owning the vessel, Morobell, and involving an Estonian consul and the foreign ministry, the Roxen, which flew under the Finnish flag under EU fishing quota rules, was released, as was the crew, on June 25, after posting bail of €700,000. However, Kimmel was detained further, with his release announced last week.
The Roxen's catch had obviously spoiled over the intervening period, and was discarded.
Kimmel himself was reportedly additionally hit with a 50 million ruble (approximately €707,700) civil action for illegal fishing, by the Kaliningrad Oblast prosecutor's office.
Troubles not over
Speaking on Kanal 2 current affairs show Reporter, Kimmel said that his detention in Kalingingrad had been exhausting and his troubles were still far from over, BNS reports.
"The court hearings have yet to be held, it's not sure when they will take place - the decision has not yet been put together. But hopefully, we'll manage," Kimmel said.
Kimmel added that he experienced blood pressure and heart problems while detained and had also undergone medical examinations.
"I actually thought I should go to hospital, get some treatment, but with the way things turned out in the end, I'll be treated at home," he added.
Morobell and now Kimmel himself have said that faulty navigational aids were responsible for inadvertently drifting into Russian waters while the trawl net was still functioning.
Kimmel had been incarcerated in a hotel located in the suburbs of Kaliningrad, additionally being required to phone the Russian Border Service twice a day to confirm his presence at the hotel. He was able to leave the building only by prior agreement.
Editor: Andrew Whyte