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Canada Uses Banana Republic Tactics to Avoid Embarrassment at Seal Trial

April 27, 2009

Canada Uses Banana Republic Tactics to Avoid Embarrassment at Seal Trial

Captain Alex Cornelissen of the Netherlands and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, wanted their day in court to expose the Keystone cops at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), but they were unable to attend their trial in Canada this day.

The defendants were scheduled to appear in court in Sydney, Nova Scotia today for a trial on the charges of breaking the Canadian Seal Protection Regulations by witnessing and documenting the slaughter of seals without permission of the government of Canada.

Both men were not able to attend the trial for the simple reason that the government of Canada ordered them deported for life in April 2008 and declared them inadmissible. They are not legally allowed to enter Canada, and thus they are being forced by this deportation order to not be present in the court.

In addition to ordering the deportation of the two men with an order to be barred from Canada, the DFO seized the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship, the Farley Mowat, without an arrest order. The ship was then ordered confiscated and sold at auction without a hearing or even a summons or a request to the owners to appear. The ship was stolen without due process of law and forfeited without charges before the two defendants were scheduled to appear in court.

The government would have to have known that a not-guilty verdict would require an explanation as to how the ship could be seized, confiscated, and sold prior to the trial. The solution was simply to prevent the defendants from attending their own trial through a deportation order and a refusal to re-admit the defendants to Canada to attend their trial. In order to keep this obstruction of justice off the record, the government simply refused to initiate a permission for re-entry.

In addition, the property belonging to all remaining crewmembers, who were never charged with an offense, was seized and confiscated without due process of law. This property included cameras, laptops, clothing, equipment, and other personal belongings.

The government did not even wait for a trial before deporting Cornelissen and Hammarstedt and barring them from entry into Canada. Nor did the government wait for a trial to seize and dispose of the Farley Mowat.

Sea Shepherd Captain Alex Cornelissen and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt were denied a trial, fair or otherwise. The sentence of deportation and seizure of private property was passed without due process of law.

The Court is expected to now rule that Cornelissen and Hammarstedt failed to appear. Their bail money of $10,000 may be forfeited, and a bench warrant for their arrest may be issued.  Any bench warrant that may be issued would be unenforceable, because the two defendants cannot re-enter Canada to be served, and they cannot lawfully be served outside of Canada. What this does is to make the entire embarrassing affair disappear for the Canadian DFO. By prohibiting the two defendants from appearing at their own trial, the government will not need to defend their actions in ordering an armed assault and seizure of a Dutch-registered vessel outside of Canada's territorial waters. Evidence of the ship's position was recorded on the Farley Mowat's GPS, which was seized by the government. A trial would force them to produce this evidence. A failure to appear will allow the case to be closed without disclosure of evidence that could prove embarrassing to the government.

The Canadian government's approach to opposition to the seal slaughter has been hostile, discriminatory, and one of persecution of activists including libelous accusations, misinformation, and heavy handed enforcement.

The "Seal Protection Regulations," which make it illegal to witness or document the killing of a seal without the government's permission, are blatantly Orwellian in context and an embarrassment to all Canadians.

When it comes to the defense of the seal slaughter, Canada behaves like a banana republic; contemptuous of human rights and dismissive of the due process of law.

So, how can the defendants attend a trial when they have been denied permission to enter the country?  Does this seem fair?

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