Anti-whaling activist readies for last stand in Tokyo court

13:42, Jun 05 2010
Pete Bethune

PETER BETHUNE plans to use the last day of his Japanese court case, tomorrow, as the stage for an anti-whaling attack.

On the final day of a trial that could see him jailed for 15 years, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society member will argue the five charges he faces arose simply from the fact his trimaran, the Ady Gil, was rammed and sunk by the Japanese whaler, the Shonan Maru 2.

His legal team will also outline the issue of illegal whaling and argue that Bethune had done nothing wrong by "standing up for the idea of whaling sanctuary in our southern oceans".

Talking to the Sunday Star-Times yesterday, Bethune's father, Don, said he had lost hope in some of the "judicial systems of the so-called civilised world".

Bethune is facing five criminal charges at his three-day trial in Tokyo District Court which began on Thursday. Three of those relate to boarding the Shonan Maru 2 in February. He has conceded four of the charges, but has contested a charge of assault over allegedly hurling a bottle of butyric acid and injuring a crew member.

He had boarded the boat to present the captain with a request for $3m in replacement costs for the Ady Gil. The trimaran, formerly EarthRace, sank a month earlier after a collision with the Shonan Maru.


Don Bethune said yesterday there was no doubt that the Ady Gil was rammed and he was hoping for the best result of the trial.

He said his son was in good spirits. "He's an incredibly resilient chap... And I'm proud of him."

Half an hour a day is allowed for outdoor exercise and "at one point he was up to 400 press ups. He's extremely fit physically and in spirit."

Pete Bethune is also hand-writing his second book. His first was on the bid to circumnavigate the world on the trimaran, when it was named Earthrace.

Don Bethune said he was "deeply disappointed" in the New Zealand government's response to his son's plight. "And in the days after the Australian minister described the actions as `bogus charges'... When he described the Japanese whaling industry as `sham research'."

One of Bethune's lawyers Dan Harris told Radio NZ he did not expect repercussions over legal action Australia is to take this week to stop Japan whaling in the southern oceans.

Sunday Star Times