Nicaraguan authorities have agreed to allow the Colombian air force to pick up all 32 detained Colombian fisherman and take them home, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
The air force mission to repatriate the fishermen, who were detained by the Nicargaguan navy on April 22, has yet to be officially approved by the Nicaraguan government due to a three-day holiday in the Central American country, reports Caracol Radio.
According to statements from Colombia’s Foreign Ministry, Nicaragua was initially planning to fine the Colombian fisherman $45 and then deport them back to Colombia. The Colombian government, however, rejected this proposal, as it would have been an admission that the fishermen were in Nicaraguan waters.
Colombian authorities claim that the fishing boat, the “Laura Anny,” was detained while in Colombian waters.
An engineer aboard the fishing boat, Ulises Serrano, told his family last week that the incident amounted to “kidnapping,” arguing that his boat was in Colombian waters when it was stopped.
Until the boat is returned to Colombia, authorities will not be able to determine exactly where it was when the Nicaraguan navy detained it.
The Colombian government protested the detention of the boat, claiming it was “illegal,” and “a flagrant violation of the norms and principles of international law.”
There is a long-running dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua over maritime rights. Nicaragua announced in April 2008 that it would detain any Colombian fishing boats that entered the disputed area in the Caribbean.
Relations between the nations became frosty after the Nicaraguan government gave asylum to three guerrillas from the FARC and a Mexican female student, the only survivors of the Colombian military’s attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, 2008.