Environmental extremist group Sea Shepherd is now trying to have criminal charges filed against Japanese whalers in the Netherlands. As two of the group’s ships sail under Dutch flags, they the country’s authorities to prosecute the Japanese for acts of piracy for intentionally ramming their ships during their recent scuffle in the Southern Ocean.
Just days after returning to port in Australia following their latest campaign against Japan’s annual hunt, Sea Shepherd was represented by lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld in filing a criminal complaint with the Netherlands‘ environmental prosecutors. They are accusing the crew of the Nisshin Maru, the mothership of Japan’s whaling fleet, including captain Tomoyuki Ogawa, of crimes of “sea robbery,” a rarely used charge only recently being applied in the prosecution of Somali pirates. Zegveld’s statement said “The Nisshin Maru is guilty of piracy, violence against the crew of a sea vessel endangering safe navigation and the destruction of Sea Shepherd vessels; all three punishable offenses under the Dutch Criminal Code.”
The attorney specifies collisions that took place on February 20th and 25th, however the Japanese Fisheries Agency has disputed some of the incidents, claiming that the activists were responsible for the collisions. At the time, video footage was captured from a Japanese ship that strongly pointed to Sea Shepherd sailing dangerously close during refueling operations, or sailing directly in the path of Japan’s vessels, making a collision unavoidable. Zegveld previously represented Sea Shepherd in 2010 by trying to have the Dutch authorities prosecute Japan, however they declined to open a case. But as two ships now sail under a Dutch flag, the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, Zegveld asserts that there is now a stronger foundation for criminal charges, and prosecutors “must accept responsibility and cannot argue that there is insufficient Dutch interest.”
On the other hand, it was Sea Shepherd that were labelled as “modern-day pirates” by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month. The judge made the statement when overruling a Seattle court’s decision to side with Sea Shepherd by throwing out a lawsuit filed by the Japanese whalers who were trying to put a stop to the group’s aggressive actions at sea. Judge Kozinski specifically pointed to Sea Shepherd’s tactics of colliding with ships and throwing dangerous objects, including glass containers of acid, at the Japanese crew members. As three out of four of the activists’ ships arrived in Australia this week, minus fugitive founder Paul Watson, current leader Bob Brown claimed they were trying to uphold Australia’s ruling that the Japanese whale hunts were illegal. It would seem they think their form of piracy is ok as long as it’s for a good cause.
[via The Republic]