Philippine investigators have recommended the filing of criminal charges against coast guards involved in the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima confirmed the recommendation of the National Bureau of Investigation, but did not say whether murder or homicide charges had been recommended.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was a debate on whether to bring murder charges against the coast guards, as “superior strength” was used “against an unarmed civilian,” or homicide, as the death of Hung Shih-chen was “not premeditated”, reports The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

A report submitted to the NBI also contains the identity of the coast guards who opened fire at the Taiwanese vessel which authorities had initially insisted intruded into Philippine waters and attempted to ram the coast guard ship.

Hung’s family has brought murder charges against the Philippine Coast Guard in Pingtung County District Attorney’s Office in southern Taiwan.

The May 9 incident sparked a bitter diplomatic row between Taipei and Manila.

Taiwan demanded an official apology from the Philippine government, compensation for Hung’s family and punishment for the shooters.

But even after President Benigno Aquino apologized for the “unintended” killing, Taiwan imposed sanctions that saw the suspension of employment for Filipino migrant workers.