News reaches us today from Japan that Captain Pete Bethune of New Zealand will face no less than five separate charges related to his boarding of the illegal whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, which occurred in the Southern Ocean on February 15, 2010 during Sea Shepherd's sixth campaign to stop this barbaric poaching operation.
These charges are bogus, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society questions the credibility of the entire Japanese judicial system for entertaining such absurdities.
On January 6, 2010, Captain Bethune's ship, the Ady Gil, was intentionally run over and literally cut in two by the much larger Shonan Maru No. 2, endangering the lives of her six international volunteer crew. Captain Bethune's response was to board that vessel at the next opportunity so he could confront face-to-face the captain responsible for this horrendous act.
Sea Shepherd expected Captain Bethune to face a trespassing charge; this does not come as a surprise. But all additional charges are being made for purely political reasons, to set an example of Captain Bethune for alleged actions that are absolutely trivial in comparison to those of the Shonan Maru No. 2--whose captain is not even being investigated by Japanese authorities after ramming and sinking another vessel at sea. This is an embarrassment to the Japanese criminal justice system, a further slap in the face to the international community, and proof that Japan will continue to do what it wants regardless of international law or public opinion. Illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and the detention of a political prisoner: these things clearly reflect the blatant abuse of and political corruption within Japan's domestic judicial system.
Shame on Japan for blowing Captain Bethune's case out of proportion, and shame on Japanese maritime authorities for failing to investigate the serious criminal actions of the Shonan Maru No. 2. Where are the charges against the captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2 for violently attacking the Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil?
Says Captain Chuck Swift, whose vessel the Bob Barker rescued the Ady Gil crew after the attack in January, "I watched the Shonan Maru No. 2 intentionally travel into and run over the Ady Gil, and thought my crew and I were going to be recovering injured and/or murdered crew. It is astounding that Japan is prosecuting Captain Bethune while ignoring the many crimes of its own illegal whaling fleet--and shameful that the world is allowing it to do so unchallenged."
Captain Bethune's home country, New Zealand, has also been surprisingly quiet regarding this arrest. Regardless of the government's position, the citizens of New Zealand and around the world are rallying for Pete's defense, wishing him a swift return to his wife and children.
To help stop the madness, please visit Sea Shepherd's Support Captain Bethune page.