#1 Whaling activist brought to Tokyo prosecutorsSonnabendGuest03-14-2010, 03:06 AM
Japan's coastguard has handed over a detained New Zealand anti-whaling activist to Tokyo prosecutors, who will decide whether to indict him for boarding a Japanese whaling ship. If found guilty on charges of trespass, Peter Bethune, a member of the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, could face up to three years in prison or fines of up to 100,000 yen ($1200), the coastguard said.
The 44-year-old Bethune, who had been in custody since he boarded the Japanese-flagged Shonan Maru II whaling ship on February 15, was arrested when the vessel docked in Tokyo on Friday. He allegedly climbed aboard the ship before dawn from a power-ski, planning to make a citizen's arrest of the Japanese ship's captain Hiroyuki Komiya for what he said was the attempted murder of his six crew.
Bethune was the captain of Sea Shepherd's high-tech powerboat Ady Gil that was sliced in two in a collision with the Shonan Maru II in January. The whalers and the protesters blame each other for the crash. Bethune was visited by New Zealand embassy staff in Tokyo on Friday and consular officials were providing information to his wife, Sharyn.
It was the latest chapter in a long-running battle between environmentalists and Japanese whalers, who hunt the ocean giants in the name of scientific research under a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on whaling. Japan maintains that whaling has been part of its culture for centuries, and does not hide the fact that whale meat from its annual expeditions ends up in shops and restaurant
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