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Russia rejects Dutch referral to maritime court for Greenpeace activists

The fate of Greenpeace activists being held in Russia on piracy charges will not be decided by an international maritime tribunal, Moscow has said. The Netherlands had called on the tribunal to arbitrate the case.

Russia's foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that Moscow "does not intend to take part in the tribunal's hearings."

On Monday, the Netherlands announced hopes that a ruling from the Hamburg-based tribunal would secure the provisional release of the 28 Greenpeace activists currently being held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.

The passengers and crew of the Dutch-registered Arctic Sun face piracy charges and jail terms of up to 15 years for their protest in September near a Gazprom oil platform against oil drilling in Arctic waters. They have been placed in pre-trial detention until November 25.

Despite signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1997, Russia said at the time it would not be bound by decisions of the tribunal when it came to law enforcement activities.

Russia's refusal to abide by the maritime tribunal's decision deepens the ongoing rift between the two countries over the detention of the activists.

mz/kms (dpa, AFP)