The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is hoping that the German foreign ministry of the justice ministry will halt the extradition of its founder, Paul Watson.
Watson remains in a German jail awaiting paperwork from Costa Rica, which seeks to put him on trial for a 2002 incident in Guatemalan waters. Sea Shepherd, which is based in the State of Washington, is becoming more and more shrilled as it issues statements on the case. The latest Wednesday said “Germany Considers Sending Whale Defender to What Will be a Death Sentence in Costa Rica.”
The organization also sees a conspiracy. It said in the latest release: “Should Captain Watson be extradited to Costa Rica, he will certainly not receive a fair trial and his safety cannot be guaranteed. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is doing everything it can to provide Captain Watson with the best legal defense team possible. Between the illegal Japanese whalers and the shark finning mafia in Costa Rica, Captain Watson has formidable enemies who seek to stop his efforts to defend marine life.”
Watson also sees a conspiracy behind his arrest on a Costa Rican warrant instead of the usual mechanizations of the dysfunctional Costa Rica justice system. He said from his cell, as reported by Sea Shepherd:
“In our efforts to defend the lives of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and fish we have made some powerful enemies, most notably the government of Japan. It is no coincidence that the extradition request by Costa Rica was issued the same month (October 2011) as the Japanese whaling (ICR) lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was initiated. The extradition request was in reference to a complaint from Costa Rican fishermen who I caught poaching in Guatemalan waters. The fishermen were not injured and their boat was not damaged. The incident was fully documented for the film “Sharkwater.” Interpol originally denied this extradition order and deemed it as politically motivated. Therefore the question must be asked why Germany is now taking into account accusations made by illegal poachers.”
Costa Rican judicial officials say the country is preparing the document to seek Watson’s extradition.
The case is curious because Watson is considered a fugitive because he did not show up for a 2006 hearing. However, he told a reporter at the time he never had been notified. He had left Costa Rica shortly after the 2002 incident that generated the charges.
Costa Rica judicial officials appear to have decided to issue an international warrant in 2001. There is no indication that they even went so far as to try to email Watson. He is highly visible and in the news frequently because of his run-ins with the Japanese whaling fleet. There also is no indication that the prosecutors and judges now involved in the case watched the “Sharkwater” film which contains footage of the ocean encounter.
Sea Shepherd said that the German prosecutor in Frankfurt made an unusual statement at a public court session. Said Sea Shepherd:
“In a highly unusual move, the Public Prosecutor stated that the German Ministry of Justice and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the power to stop the extradition procedures on political grounds. If the German Ministry of Justice and/or the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs give notice that they would not grant an extradition of Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case would be over, and Captain Watson would be set free immediately. We have asked our supporters to continue to appeal to the German Ministry of Justice for help.”
Sea Shepherd is trying to raise money for Watson’s defense.