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Russian court grants more Greenpeace protesters bail

A St Petersburg court has granted bail to three non-Russian Greenpeace activists, a day after offering bail to three Russians. In September 30 protesters were arrested as Greenpeace neared an oil rig in Arctic waters.

Greenpeace activists from Brazil, Argentina and New Zealand were offered bail on Tuesday in return for 2 million rubles ($61,250 or 45,300 euros). The same fee was set on Monday for three Russian members of Greenpeace who were offered bail.

Greenpeace said the Primorsky court in St Petersburg ruled that Brazlian Ana Paula Maciel (pictured above in cell), Argentinian Miguel Hernan Perez Orsi and New Zealander David Haussmann could be freed on bail, adding it would make money available as soon as possible. The court allowed a window of four days in which to make the bail payments.

Colin Russell, the Australian radio operator on Arctic Sunrise vessel that carried protestors in open waters off the Russian oil rig in September, was denied bail and ordered to remain in detention until February 24.

Hearings for six other crew member were scheduled to take place on Tuesday, including one activist who was among those who tried to board the state-run oil rig.

International outcry

Russia's Coast Guard took control of the Arctic Sunrise and arrested 30 people on board in September. They were first charged with piracy but this was later changed to hooliganism, a charge carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years in Russia.

The activists' detention has prompted international outcry, with Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Beatle Paul McCartney and solo artist Madonna among the high profile people to call for the Greenpeace members' release.

The Arctic Sunrise's flag country, the Netherlands, has taken a case of its own to the international maritime court, asking it to order Russia to release all the crew members.

msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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