Environmentalist arrested in Frankfurt remanded in custody | News | DW | 14.05.2012
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Environmentalist arrested in Frankfurt remanded in custody

A conservation activist is being remanded in custody over his clash with a ship in the Guatemalan seas. It is not the first time the organization he represents has been implicated in a maritime confrontation.

A German court on Monday ordered Paul Watson, the founder of the environmental group Sea Shepherd, be remanded in custody following his arrest one day earlier on an arrest warrant issued by Costa Rica.

“My client is shocked," Watson's lawyer Oliver Wallasch told reporters following Monday's court hearing.

Wallasch added that his client would have to stay in custody while German authorities consider a Costa Rican request for his extradition. He said it wasn't clear how long the process would take.

The 61-year-old Canadian activist was arrested upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport on Sunday on charges of disrupting maritime traffic in an activist clash over shark finning, a process which involves live sharks having their fins mutilated, in Costa Rica in 2002. Watson is accused of attacking a Costa Rican ship with a water cannon.

According to Australian media reports based on Costa Rican sources, Watson also faces an outstanding warrant for his arrest over an attempted murder charge relating to the same incident. The crew on the ship alleges that the protesters wanted to kill them.

Sea Shepherd denies the claims.

"The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherds of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy," said the group in a statement.

Prominent support

The group also said that Watson was being assisted during his time in custody by two members of the European Parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Jose Bove.

Cohn-Bendit, a Green MEP who is a personal friend of the environmentalist, described Watson's arrest for an incident that happened a decade ago as "completely absurd," adding that he had travelled through both the United States and France unhindered for the past several years.

Sea Shepherd is best-known for disrupting the Japanese whale hunt every year. In 2010 one of the organization's boats crashed into a Japanese whaling boat in the Antarctic, causing it to sink. All six crew members were pulled to safety.

sej/pfd ( dpa, AFP)