However, a decision on their release of their boats has been deferred until October 17

Thirty one Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy two months ago for allegedly breaching the country’s maritime boundary were on Tuesday freed by a court.

The fishermen had been arrested on July 30, 2013 off eastern Sri Lanka and handed over to the police.

On being produced before Trincomalee Magistrate U.L.D. Arshad, instructions were issued to the Navy to hand over the fishermen to Indian authorities at the International Maritime Boundary Line.

However, a decision on their release of their boats has been deferred until October 17, 2013.

The ruling came after last week’s announcement by the Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne that Indian fishing trawlers which breach the IMBL in future would be confiscated.

“This problem cannot be solved by arresting fishermen. They are innocent. It is the trawler owners who must be held responsible. They would begin to feel it when boats are confiscated,” Mr. Senaratne said.