During Sea Shepherd’s 2009-2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Waltzing Matilda, Captain Pete Bethune was volunteering his services as skipper of the Ady Gil. On January 6, 2010, the much larger and more maneuverable Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and split the Ady Gil in two, then hosed its crew members down with water cannons as they scrambled for safety amongst the wreckage.
As the Ady Gil began to take on water, the Shonan Maru No. 2 ignored Sea Shepherd’s multiple requests for assistance. Fortunately, another Sea Shepherd vessel, the Bob Barker, was nearby and was able to rescue the Ady Gil crew members. After repeated attempts by the Bob Barker to salvage and tow the remains of the Ady Gil to a nearby French base, and after removal of all remaining fuel and pollutants on board, the Ady Gil was ultimately deemed unsalvageable and sunk to a watery grave.
As a New Zealand citizen, Captain Bethune was empowered under New Zealand law to serve a citizen’s arrest warrant on the captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2 for the sinking of his vessel and the attempted murder of himself and his crew. On January 15, 2010, Captain Bethune made his first attempt to serve the Shonan Maru No. 2 with a citizen’s arrest, but he was unable to complete the service. On February 15, 2010, Captain Bethune made a second attempt, and this time, he was able to successfully board the Shonan Maru No. 2 to deliver his citizen’s arrest warrant, along with an invoice for the loss of the Ady Gil.
Captain Bethune Detained
Unfortunately, upon boarding the Shonan Maru No. 2, Captain Bethune was detained and taken all the way back to Japan, where he is currently being held in a maximum security jail cell in Tokyo awaiting trial on an array of amped-up politically-motivated charges with potentially severe penalties. These charges include: (1) trespass, (2) possession of a weapon (the knife used to cut the net while boarding), (3) alleged injury to a person, (4) property damage, and (5) interference with normal business activity. At the moment, Sea Shepherd is working closely with Captain Bethune’s legal defense team in an effort to obtain his release from Japan as quickly as possible.