Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen is Released from Jail
February 16 was a very good day in court for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardian volunteer, Erwin Vermeulen. In Wakayama, Japan, closing arguments were presented in the case of Erwin Vermeulen.
In Wakayama, following the closing arguments by both prosecution and defense, the judge signed an order, presented by the defense, for Erwin to be released from custody pending the judge’s verdict. The prosecution exercised its right to appeal to a higher court in order to force Erwin to remain in detention for the remainder of the trial. The trial judge took the extraordinary step of sending the paperwork to the higher court last night, thus ensuring that the appeal would be heard today. The higher court sided with the trial judge and denied the prosecution’s appeal. Erwin was released from jail and walked outside in the sunshine for the first time in 63 days and was reunited with fellow Cove Guardians. The first thing he did was call his girlfriend, his mother and went out to eat a vegan meal with his friends.
Erwin says he is happy to be able to sleep in a real bed with a heater in the room and is overwhelmed by the support from people globally.
Erwin will be back in court on February 22 to hear the judge’s verdict on the assault charges. The prosecution has only asked for a small fine of 100,000 Yen ($1.300), should Erwin be found guilty. No jail time was requested. The defense exposed the fact that the prosecution’s case is without merit, as well as how poorly the case was investigated. It has become clear that arresting Erwin and charging him with assault was politically motivated. The prosecution’s appeal against Erwin’s release from detention is blatant injustice and more proof of the political motivation behind this case.
Erwin will not be speaking to the media until after sentencing on Feb 22. Check back for updates on this case!