Anti-whaling activist pleads guilty in Tokyo trial
Tokyo: An anti-whaling activist from New Zealand who boarded a Japanese whaling ship as part of a protest in February pleaded guilty Thursday to charges including trespassing and destruction of property, but denied that he committed assault.
Sea Shepherd activist Peter Bethune admitted in a Tokyo court that he climbed aboard the Shonan Maru 2 in Antarctic seas and pleaded guilty to two other criminal counts — illegal possession of a knife and obstruction of business — but said he believed he had "good reason to do so." He denied a fifth charge of assault.
If convicted, Bethune could face up to 15 years in prison.
Bethune, 45, who jumped aboard the whaling vessel from a Jet Ski, has said he wanted to make a citizen`s arrest of the Japanese captain and handed over a $3 million bill for the destruction of a high-tech protest ship that sank after a confrontation with Japanese whaling vessels a month earlier.
Prosecutors Thursday accused Bethune of conspiring with other Sea Shepherd members to "sabotage Japanese whaling in the Antarctic."
They say Bethune and other activists threw glass bottles containing rotten butter at the Japanese boat, causing them to explode, splashing a crew member in the face and slightly injuring him and obstructing the whaling mission.
Bethune is also accused of slashing the ship`s protective net with a knife that he illegally carried with him when he sneaked on to Shonan Maru 2.
"I admit that I boarded the Shonan Maru 2 but I believe that I have good reason to do so," he said during the proceedings. "I admit that I fired the butyric acid, but there were additional circumstances that we will discuss in court."
He was handcuffed and had a rope tied around his waist as he was ushered into the courtroom, which guards removed as he sat in front of the panel of judges. He grinned when prosecutors showed a photo on a wall-mounted monitor showing him on a protest boat, identifying him with "a trademark skinhead."
Outside the court, a group of about 30 ultra rightwing activists staged a protest, jeering anti-whaling activists and holding banners accusing them of "waging terrorist attacks on Japan."
Sea Shepherd lawyer Dan Harris urged the court to conduct a fair trial.
"I have every reason to believe that judges are not going to politicize the trial," he told The Associated Press. "Mr. Bethune said he is proud of what he has done and he feels that it was worth it."
Bethune was brought back from the southern seas aboard the Shonan Maru 2 and arrested in March immediately after the harpoon boat was docked in the Tokyo bay, and has since been in custody at Tokyo`s main detention center.
Confrontations between Sea Shepherd boats and Japanese vessels have at times turned violent, forcing Japan`s Antarctic mission in recent years to return home with only half its catch quota of some 900 whales.
Japan joins Norway and Iceland in hunting whales under various exceptions to a 1986 moratorium by the International Whaling Commission. Opponents call Japan`s research whaling program a cover for commercial hunts and have singled it out for especially strong protests. The program also involves large-scale expeditions down to the Antarctic, while other whaling countries mostly stay along their coasts.
Excess meat is sold in Japan for consumption, available through limited outlets such as special whale restaurants and public school lunch programs.
In a bid to resolve a deep divide between pro-whaling nations and their opponents, the IWC last month issued a proposal that would effectively allow the whaling countries to resume commercial hunts, though under strict quotas set by the commission. The IWC will debate the proposal at next month`s meeting in Morocco.
Japan accuses the conservationists of endangering lives of whalers and is also seeking to arrest Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson over his role in the Bethune case.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- When Subramanian Swamy shocked people at a wedding!
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Mumbai: Diamond export company denies job to Muslim youth
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- Mirage 2000 fighter jet landing was part of capability demonstration: IAF
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- Woman robbed at gunpoint inside Hyderabad ATM
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- New IPL rules could see Chennai Super Kings lose MS Dhoni
- `Piku` hits jackpot, does Rs 100 crore business worldwide
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- Lalu Yadav invites Jitan Ram Manjhi for joint fight against BJP, JD(U) upset
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- Littering, defacement to be made punishable offence
- CBSE Class 10 Results 2015 may not be announced today
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Check JAC 12th Inter Arts Result 2015: JAC 12th Inter Arts Result 2015 declared on jac.nic.in
- WBBSE 10th Madhyamik Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015 to be announced on May 22
- Don't know what will happen to my career, says Ranbir Kapoor
- Osama files show an "Indian brother in Madinah” financed al Qaeda