COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — India, which is holding a Sri Lankan naval craft seized by its coast guard, has asked Colombo to free 17 Indian fishermen who face trial in Sri Lanka on poaching charges, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
India has claimed the vessel intruded into Indian territorial waters and fired on fishing boats.
Sri Lanka has denied the boat strayed from Sri Lankan waters and has demanded its immediate return. Last October, Sri Lankan naval patrol boats rounded up 17 south Indian trawlers in the strait and have held the 17 skippers in custody pending charges of poaching in Sri Lankan waters. The 53 crew members of the trawlers were released.