Anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune stands trial in Tokyo

New Zealander charged with offences including trespass and property damage after boarding whaling ship

The trial of anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune began today in Tokyo, three months after he boarded a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean to attempt a citizen’s arrest on its captain.

New Zealander Bethune, 45, boarded the ship, the Shonan Maru No 2, on 15 February. As well as making a political statement, he planned to present the captain of the whaling vessel with a bill of $3m for the sinking of his boat, Ady Gil, following damaged sustained in a collision with the whaler in January.

Ady Gil

Bethune was detained once he was discovered on the Shonan Maru No 2, and taken to Japan to stand trial for charges including trespass and property damage.

Bethune, who was working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, will be represented in Tokyo by the organisation’s lawyers from Seattle-based firm Harris & Moure.

Sea Shepherd said today that the lawyers would “explain Sea Shepherd’s position regarding the trial and Japan’s illegal whaling operations”.

Photo: People protest against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in front of the Tokyo District Court as Bethune’s trial begins.