Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paul Watson: Attempted Murder?

Paul Watson is under arrest!
In news that'll bring self-righteous smirks to the faces of the anti-anti-whaling fraternity, the founder of Sea Shepherd was taken into custody in Germany last weekend, and will be extradited to Costa Rica.
Watson (captain of the Steve Irwin), was nabbed on an outstanding warrant over a 2002 incident (during the filming of Sharkwater, which went on to win 31 international awards). SS says: "The 'violation of ships traffic' incident took place on the high seas in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark-finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero. On order of the Guatemalan authorities, SS instructed the crew of Varadero to cease their illegal shark-finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted." But SS claims while it was escorting Varadero back to port, the tables were turned: "A Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the SS crew. The crew of Varadero accused SS of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy. To avoid the gunboat, SS set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings."
In incidents involving high-profile environmental groups (especially Sea Shepherd), it's always a case of "you said, we said". SS is very canny about recording its activities, so when it claims to have video evidence to support its position, I'd not be at all surprised if it actually does. But a charge of attempted murder may need to be confronted with every weapon in its arsenal.
SS has labelled the arrest "nonsense" and hopes the Costa Ricans will drop the charges. Watson is due to appear in court on Thursday.
Update: A German judge has refused to release Watson, saying he wants to confirm Costa Rica actually wants extradition. The warrant was issued in Oct.2011, curiously close to the time the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) filed its civil suit against SS in the United States. So why did Costa Rica issue an arrest warrant for Watson in Oct.2011... for a 2002 incident? Meanwhile INTERPOL says it will not publish a Red Notice seeking Watson's arrest, because its Office of Legal Affairs is not satisfied the Costa Rican request is in compliance with INTERPOL’s Constitutions and Rules.
PS: 22 May 2012  - After eight days in custody, Watson is released on bail.  It is unprecedented for a non-German national to be released on bail during an extradition proceeding, and must indicate German doubts over the entire affair.

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