Kiribati fisherman pleads guilty to assault of a PNA Fisheries Observer

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
June 16, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—Taranguti Uerem, who in May was accused of assaulting a PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) fisheries observer from the Solomon Islands while at sea aboard a Dongwon fishing vessel, pled guilty to the crime. He could have faced 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $5000 but he did not receive anything near that penalty during sentencing.
Uerem received a sentence of 12 months of imprisonment, all of which was suspended except for 30 days that was to be served in the Pohnpei State Jail. He was credited for the time he served during which he was released with restricted liberties—a total of 31 days. The remainder of the sentence was suspended and will be served on probation.
The court also ruled that he would have to pay the court a fine of $600.
It also ruled that he could not leave Pohnpei unless the court allows him to do so after he applies in writing to re-obtain his passport but that he could not do so until after he had paid the $600 fine.
In the same day, the court ruled to return his passport and to allow him to travel back to his home and family in Kiribati.

Uerem is required to give notice to the Justice Ombudsman if he reenters the FSM or its waters.
After the observer reported the incident, the Dongwon company management immediately and voluntarily called the vessel to port. The vessel arrived at the Pohnpei port on May 15 and Uerem was arrested on May 16.
NORMA Director Eugene Pangelinan had high praise for the FSM’s fast action on the assault of a fisheries observer. He said that he was disappointed with the lenient sentencing but as he earlier said, “Going forward, we now let the law take its course—and we thank all our maritime justice, and other parties involved in this case.
Prosecutor Clayton Lawrence earlier said that the case is a first “of this kind where it’s been brought to our attention.”