Whale warrior sentenced and released

Pete Bethune sentenced to two years

Photo By JoAnne McArthur/Sea Shepherd

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Capt. Pete Bethune returned home to New Zealand on July 9 after the Japanese court that detained him for the last five months handed down a verdict, according to an SSCS press release and international news reports.

Bethune (pictured) has been in the international spotlight since January, when Capt. Hiroyuki Komura rammed the Shonan Maru No. 2, an illegal whaling ship, into the SSCS’s vessel, the Ady Gil. Bethune later boarded the whaler to present an invoice for his ship, and was subsequently arrested by Japanese authorities.

The Tokyo District Court gave Bethune a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years from the day of the verdict (July 7). In 2015, he’ll return to Tokyo to serve his sentence.

Bethune admitted to trespassing, vandalism and a few other charges, but denied that he had thrown rancid butter on the crewmembers. The SSCS spent more than $500,000 on Bethune’s defense, and estimated that his actions saved the lives of 528 whales.