Whaling activist 'vindicated' by ban

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 09:31 01/04/2014
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VINDICATED: Pete Bethune spent months in a Japanese jail for his involvement in the fight against whaling in the Southern Ocean.

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The New Zealand anti-whaling activist who spent five months in a Japanese jail for the cause says he feels "vindicated" by the International Court of Justice decision ordering Japan to stop whaling.

Judges at the highest United Nations court has ordered Japan to halt whaling in the Antarctic, rejecting the country's long-held argument that the catch was for scientific purposes and not primarily for human consumption.

Pete Bethune, who in 2010 was arrested and indicted in Japan after he boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in the southern ocean, slept outside The Hague overnight to make sure he was in the court to see the ruling handed down.

"I am over the moon," he said today.

"I believe justice has been served and I feel in some way vindicated with my activities in 2010. It's been amazing, a very emotional day."

Japanese officials said while they were disappointed, they would comply with the ruling.

They could attempt to get around it by introducing a new research whaling programme, but Bethune said he had spoken to a senior member of the delegation and was confident they would abide by it.

As the case only dealt with whaling in the Southern Ocean, Japan was able to continue its programme in the Northern Pacific.

But Bethune was hopeful the ruling would be the first step in banning whaling worldwide.

"It remains to be seen what happens there but as things stand today I am optimistic," he said.

"I think we have seen the last whale taken in Antarctica."

The case was brought to the international court by Australia, with New Zealand support.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully welcomed the decision saying the decision "sinks a giant harpoon into the legality of Japan's whaling programme".

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