Tokyo: An anti-whaling activist of the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was due to go on trial in Japan Thursday for charges relating to high seas clashes earlier this year.
New Zealander Peter Bethune, 45, was arrested in February after he scaled the Shonan Maru II, the security ship of the Japanese whaling fleet, in Antarctic waters following a
series of high-seas confrontations.
He faces five charges, including injuring a Japanese crew member with a projectile made of rancid butter, or butyric acid, during one of many clashes between the Sea
Shepherd group and Japanese harpoon ships.
He was also charged with trespass, vandalism, obstructing commercial activities and carrying a knife when he scaled the ship.
If convicted he faces up to 15 years in jail. The Sea Shepherd group pursued and harassed Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters for months in the 2009-2010
season, a campaign which both sides say reduced the Japanese cull by several hundred whales.
Bethune was the captain of the futuristic Kevlar powerboat the Ady Gil, which was sliced in two in a collision with the Shonan Maru II in January while carrying six crew and
sank soon after.
The next month Bethune scaled the Japanese ship from a jet ski with the intent of making a citizen`s arrest of its captain for the attempted murder of the Ady Gil`s crew, and to
bill him for the sunken vessel.
Instead, Bethune was detained and taken back to Japan, where he was formally arrested by the Japanese Coast Guard.
Japan, which says whaling has been part of its culture for centuries, has also sought Interpol`s help to arrest Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson for ordering his crew to harass whaling ships.