Whaling activist Bethune gets suspended sentence
Wed, 07 Jul 2010 4:40p.m.
Pete Bethune has received a two-year suspended sentence and banned from Japan for five years, for obstructing a whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean.
He is expected to be deported back to New Zealand on the next available flight.
Bethune, 45, was also found guilty of assault, for throwing a bottle of rancid butter at whalers on board the whaling ship Shonan Maru II.
The ruling was made at the Tokyo District Court this afternoon, after Bethune obstructed the activities of a Japanese whaling fleet in February.
The sentence is suspended for five years, meaning Bethune will not be jailed.
3 News reporter Melissa Davies was in court for the sentence, watch her report.
The activist had hoped to receive a suspended sentence, according to his wife Sharyn in Auckland, but has said he was "very nervous" ahead of sentencing.
"I will accept the verdict, but I do hope to go home soon," Peter Bethune, a former member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, told Kyodo News agency in an interview at Tokyo Detention House.
He pleaded guilty last month to charges relating to the illegal boarding of a Japanese whaling ship, but not guilty to assault, after being held in custody since February, when he boarded the Japanese whaling fleet's security ship the Shonan Maru II during its annual trip south.
Sharyn Bethune has said she hopes her husband will be able to return to New Zealand - and his daughters Danielle and Alycia - as early as Saturday morning.
Sharyn Bethune reacts to verdict
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman told NZPA a New Zealand government official would attend the sentencing.
Bethune was captain of the US-based environmentalist group's futuristic powerboat, the Ady Gil - his former record-setting trimaran Earthrace - which sank after an earlier collision with the Shonan Maru II.
He tried to serve a citizen's arrest warrant to the captain of the Shonan Maru II over the sinking of his vessel and the attempted murder of him and his crew, but was captured.
"I deeply regret" if someone was injured in the Antarctic Ocean, he said ahead of his ruling tomorrow. "I have nothing against Japanese."
At his trial in Tokyo, Bethune pleaded guilty to charges including trespassing, vandalism and holding a knife, which he used to cut netting as he climbed onto the ship from a jet ski, but he has denied the assault charge.
He was also accused of causing chemical burns to the face of a whaler with a rancid butter stink bomb and four other charges.
"What I was doing was standing up for New Zealand and Australia," he told Kyodo.
He stressed that it was "deeply offensive" for the two countries to see the Japanese hunting whales specifically in the Antarctic Ocean, and that he "wouldn't mind if it is Northern Pacific".
Bethune's Sea Shepherd crew members say they are "relieved" with the sentence.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson responds to verdict.
The Sea Shepherd group has said Bethune would no longer join
its actions after taking a bow and arrows on the latest high-seas
campaign, contrary to Sea Shepherd's stance of "aggressive but
non-violent direct action".
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8/12/2010 7:42:15 a.m.
Actually he positioned his boat in an unsafe manner. As a captain he should be smarter. OH WAIT, he is an eco-terrorists thats what he is, even the Sea Shepherd doesn't want him.
Paul "the whale" Watson and his ilk claim they are doing nothing wrong, they have never been charged. Neither have the Japanese. Opinions may differ, but in a court of law they are legal.
@aaron..... nobody was even inside steering the boat. so how could they have turned into the Japanese.
Thats in violation of marine codes. Maybe Petey boy should be charge with reckless endangerment of his crew also.
@Allen....Japan and its whaling fleet should remember who gave their island back after a surrender in 1945.
Give it a rest for christs sake.
@Whitney....Wow he even apologized and he did nothing wrong
Actually he did something wrong, hence the guilty plea! ! DUH
30/08/2010 8:10:24 p.m.
whale wars wrote:
I support you pete,, as a captain, you do an excellent job for your crew and to the whales... keep doing what is the good things for your self and family and also to the whales... I know GOD will help you.. GOD BLESS and more power... I'll keep on watching WHALE WARS,..... New Zealand Gov't please do something not only for politics... but for pete and for the whales.... :))
31/07/2010 5:36:24 a.m.
Mike CSI, Obviously you haven't watched the clips. You don't know what you're talking about. Keeping eating the meat bro, hope you choke on it. Anyhow, I support Paul and all of his crew for their heroic actions. SOMEONE needs to defend the innocent. They are not hunting meat for research purposes...that is the Japanese loophole excuse. Come on, do they really need that many whales for research. The Shonan Maru 2 got away with attempted murder because of THEIR politics. I'll guarantee if the shoe were on the other foot, the outcome would have been completely different. Sea Shepherds...you are in my prayers for your safety and success. Keep up the good work.
27/07/2010 3:39:00 a.m.
I barely catch my breath when I watch what is taking place out in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean and the Adi Gill was DEFINITELY targeted by the harpoon ship...that was completely obvious! These women and men are fighting to save helpless, peaceful mammals who are supposed to be safe from the evils of man's greed....money talks and as long as it does, no one will ever be able to prevent the hunt. Hats off to Pete and Paul and the entire gang for fighting for what is right. I will continue to support the anti-whaling campaign!!!
25/07/2010 3:43:30 p.m.
Mike CSI, you're an idiot. obviously the nishon maru 2 ran into the ady gil. nobody was even inside steering the boat. so how could they have turned into the japanese. its very obvious the japanese turned into them
24/07/2010 4:25:36 p.m.
It looks like Mike CSI loves eating his whale meat!!
I support Pete and all the people that choose to help Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd!!!
22/07/2010 3:48:13 p.m.
Mike CSI wrote:
You people seriously need to get your head out of the Sea Shepherd fantasy land and back into reality. The video evidence clearly showed that the Ady Gil deliberately maneuvered itself in front of the bow of the Shonan Maru 2 just before the impact took plac. This has been confirmed by multiple marine experts. In case you've missed the last couple of years of the show, Paul Watson and his ilk LOVE to commit insanely outrageous actions and then flat out lie about their part in them so they look like victims. The fact is, the Sea Shepherd organization and everyone in it, especially Paul Watson, are dagerous criminals who should all be thrown in prison. He has made it clear in interviews from the past that he values the life of an earthworm over the life of a human being. Nice role model you folks have.
17/07/2010 9:57:23 p.m.
He was in the right to board the Shonan Maru II. do to the fact that they destroyed and purposely ran in to the Ady Gil. the Japanese are in the wrong by whaling any where i proudly stand by and support the sea shepherds in their acts to stop whaling. The Japanese also need to be punished for their criminal acts. THE JAPANESE ARE WRONG.
11/07/2010 12:49:33 p.m.
Japan and its whaling fleet should remember who gave their island back after a surrender in 1945. Maybe we should have done like they did before 45 and like they do now give no quarter. All I can say is the bastards killed many in my family. The laws on whaling should be enforced and sanctions should be levied against Japan for every whale killed.
11/07/2010 9:49:44 a.m.
Good for you and your Family that you are home.Great to see someone follow their passion and do something that they really believe in. However, one of your comments in the media about being "beaten up and shagged by Sumo wrestlers " was ignorant and stupid. This kind of comment only helps to inflame the already negative perception of Japanese that you and your exploits have helped to create.For someone who leaves with and works with Japanese here in NZ everyday I find this attitude only too common in everyday NZ. May I advise you to take a trip to Japan sometime, learn some of the culture, meet some of the people. You'll be suprised and I would expect such ludicrous comments will be something of the past .Hugh
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