Whale-warrior trial update

First phase of Capt. Bethune’s trial ends

The first phase of Capt. Pete Bethune’s criminal trial ended in Japan on June 3, after a week of testimony from Shonan Maru 2 crewmembers and Bethune himself, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s website.

Despite media reports, Bethune, a New Zealander, did not plead guilty to four of his five charges, which ranged from trespassing to vandalism. Individuals who are faced with criminal charges do not make pleas in Japan’s legal system, and Bethune has maintained his innocence.

Bethune and his Japanese lawyers have maintained that the society’s actions are protected by the United Nations World Charter for Nature, which allows private organizations to interfere in government-like ways in the interest of the environment.

Shonan Maru 2 crewmembers testified that one person suffered a skin rash after an Ady Gil crewmember threw rancid butter onto their ship, but there was little proof.

Bethune and his lawyers made their final statements in court June 10. Bethune read his statement in Japanese to show that his problem is with illegal whaling, not Japan.

He was arrested March 12 after boarding the whaler with an invoice for his sunken ship.