Sea Shepherd seeks criminal case against whalers
THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHINS VOICE-21/03/2013
Sea Shepherd seeks criminal case against whalers
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Sea Shepherd wants Dutch authorities to prosecute Japanese whalers for piracy for allegedly attacking the radical conservationist group’s ships in Antarctic waters, a lawyer said Thursday.
Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld filed a criminal complaint with Dutch environmental prosecutors accusing the crew of the Nisshin Maru whaling ship of deliberately ramming Sea Shepherd’s ships in February.
The case is being brought in the Netherlands because the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker both sail under the Dutch flag.
It intensifies a legal battle going on between Sea Shepherd and Japan’s whaling fleet stemming from their repeated clashes on the high seas in recent years.
Japan says it hunts whales for scientific purposes, an allowed exception to an international whaling ban, though anti-whaling activists say the hunts are a cover for commercial whaling.
Zegveld accused the Nisshin Maru’s captain Tomoyuki Ogawa and his crew of crimes including “sea robbery” a little-used offense formerly used to prosecute pirates. The charge has recently been dusted off in the Netherlands to prosecute Somali pirates captured by the Dutch navy.
“The Nisshin Maru is guilty of piracy, violence against the crew of a sea vessel endangering safe navigation and the destruction of Sea Shepherd vessels; all three punishable offences under the Dutch Criminal Code,” Zegveld said in a statement.
After one of the incidents Zegveld referred to in her complaint, on Feb. 20, Japan’s Fisheries Agency insisted the protesters were responsible for the collisions as they tried to hinder a refueling operation.
Zegveld’s complaint accused the whalers of deliberately ramming the Sea Shepherd vessels during refueling operations in the Southern Ocean on Feb. 20 and 25.
It is the second time Zegveld has attempted to have Japanese whalers prosecuted on behalf of Sea Shepherd. Prosecutors declined to open a prosecution in 2010, but Zegveld says circumstances have now changed, because both the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker ships sail under Dutch flag, giving prosecutors a stronger foundation for laying charges.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office must now accept its responsibility and cannot argue that there is insufficient Dutch interest to bring a prosecution or refuse to do so for other reasons,” Zegveld said.
The Dutch complaint follows a significant courtroom defeat for Sea Shepherd.
Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals castigated Sea Shepherd and its founder Paul Watson for their tactics in disrupting the annual Japanese whale hunt in the treacherous waters of Antarctica.
“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. “When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”
The ruling overturned a Seattle trial judge’s decision siding with the protesters and tossing out a lawsuit filed by a group of Japanese whalers seeking a court-ordered halt to the aggressive tactics, many of which were broadcast on the Animal Planet reality television show “Whale Wars.”
Meanwhile, Australia is challenging the legality of Japan’s whaling at the United Nations highest judicial organ, the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
CANBERRA, Australia — The founder of Sea Shepherd left the environmental group’s fleet of anti-whaling ships before they docked in Australia on Wednesday, though the government says it has no reason to arrest him at the moment.
Three Sea Shepherd ships docked at the southern port of Williamstown after weeks of harassing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic Ocean during the annual whaling season.
The Washington state-based organization, which the United States’ largest federal court last month labeled “pirates,” said Watson, a 62-year-old Canadian, had left the fleet before it reached Australia for fear of arrest. His whereabouts have not been disclosed.
Interpol, the France-based international police organization, said on its website that Watson is wanted by Japan for “hooliganism/vandalism/damage, life and health.” He is also wanted by Costa Rica for allegedly endangering a fishing vessel crew in 2002. Watson fled from Germany in July after being arrested at the behest of the Costa Rican government.
But Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told Parliament that Watson would not have been arrested on setting foot on Australia because no Australian arrest warrant existed.
Dreyfus would not say whether Japan or any other country had requested his extradition – a necessary step before an arrest warrant is issued.
“It is a longstanding Australian government policy … not to disclose whether Australia has received an extradition request from another country,” Dreyfus said.
Australia is a vocal critic of Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. Dreyfus said he expects Australia’s case that whaling violates Japan’s international obligations will be heard this year by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
The Sea Shepherd vessels will remain in Williamstown for several months while they complete repairs. One of those ships, the Bob Barker, collided with a Japanese whaler last month.
Also last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated a lawsuit by Japanese whalers against Watson and Sea Shepherd. The court called the activists pirates and said the whalers were likely to win an order banning Sea Shepherd from disrupting the annual whale hunt off Antarctica.
Watson contends the Costa Rican charges were filed because of pressure from the Japanese government, and that he eventually would have been extradited to Japan if he had remained in custody.
Shortly after Watson was arrested in Germany in May, Sea Shepherd issued a statement saying Watson was filming a documentary at the time of the alleged incident, which took place in Guatemalan waters in 2002.
The group said it encountered an illegal shark finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero, and told the crew to stop and head to port to be prosecuted. The crew accused Watson’s team of trying to kill them by ramming their ship.
On setting out on his latest anti-whaling campaign in December, Watson said he was unlikely to return to the United States because American authorities would likely turn him over to Japan.
Source: HUFF POST
Victorious return for Sea Shepherd fleet
Melbourne, Australia Mar. 20, 2013 – Sea Shepherd Australia is proud to welcome home the 110 strong international crew and three ships, the Steve Irwin, Sam Simon and Bob Barker. They have arrived into Williamstown this morning after a historic campaign defending whales in the Southern ocean. Their return marks an end to the most successful campaign to date, with the Japanese whalers returning home with the lowest kill ever. All three Sea Shepherd ships were damaged after being struck multiple times by the 8,000 ton Nisshin Maru. The Sea Shepherd crew have endured attacks by concussion grenades and hit with water cannons. After all they have endured during their non-violent defence of whales, they return home knowing they will be recognized as heroes by Australians and supporters across the globe.
“Sea Shepherd Australia’s Operation Zero Tolerance has been Sea Shepherds most successful campaign to date. It has been a real honor to co-lead this campaign with conservation champion, Bob Brown. The support from all over the world has been very humbling and our team here in Australia has worked courageously behind the scenes supporting the bravest crew Sea Shepherd has ever seen. However, it is all with a heavy heart as the man that started it all, defending Australia’s whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory, Captain Paul Watson, can not be stepping a shore because the Australian Government will not announce his safe passage into Australia. A man that is an Australian hero, doing the work that the Australian government refuse to do, that the Australian public want done, is once again forced to go into hiding,” said Jeff Hansen, Director Sea Shepherd Australia.
“The really big welcome awaits Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson, when and if the Government clears his path to Melbourne,” said Bob Brown, Chair Sea Shepherd Australia.
“Sea Shepherd’s ninth campaign to Antarctica was named Operation Zero Tolerance because illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in violation of an Australian Federal Court Ruling prohibiting the killing of threatened, endangered and protected whales cannot, and will not, be tolerate by Sea Shepherd. It is with great pride that the Sea Shepherd crew returns to Melbourne, secure in the knowledge that everything was done in accordance with the law to give the whale poachers the worst killing season that they have ever had in history, in no small part thanks to the support of the whaling-loving people of Australia,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Bob Barker
“Every single crew member can go home today proud of the fact that they have returned triumphant from the Southern Ocean having saved the lives of hundreds of whales. It has taken us 4 months and 15 days and more sea miles than it takes to circumnavigate the globe to ensure that Operation Zero Tolerance lived up to its name. The determination, resolve, strength and passion of the crews along with Sea Shepherd Australia has made this the most successful Southern Ocean campaign in 9 years,” said Captain Siddharth Chakravarty, Steve Irwin
“The entire crew of the Sam Simon and myself are happy that our months of hard work and hardship translated into a victory for life, beauty and nature, showing that determined people when united can achieve great feats, such as stopping greedy and illegal interests from damaging Antarctica’s pristine Eco-systems,” said Captain Luis Manuel Pinho, Sam Simon
About Sea Shepherd Australia
Sea Shepherd Australia is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd Australia uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd Australia works to ensure their survival for future generations.
Source: Beach Carolina
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.