Anti-whale-hunt activist held by German court

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2012 2:59 PM
Anti-whale-hunt activist held by German court

(Reuters) - A marine conservationist renowned for disrupting whale hunts appeared in court in Germany on Monday facing extradition to Costa Rica over charges arising from a confrontation with a ship that was fishing for sharks.

Marine activist group Sea Shepherd said Paul Watson, its 61-year-old leader, faced extradition to answer "violation of ships traffic" charges stemming from the incident a decade ago.

He will remain in custody until Wednesday, pending a further court decision, his lawyer, Oliver Wallasch, told Reuters television. The alleged confrontation took place in Guatemalan waters in 2002.

Sea Shepherd said the group had discovered an illegal shark finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero.

The practice involves fishing sharks, slicing off their fins and tossing the sharks back into the sea, sometimes barely alive.

"On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted," the group said in a statement.

"While escorting the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew," the statement added.

The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherd crew of trying to kill them, while the organization said it had video to disprove the claim.

(Reporting By Elisa Oddone; Editing by Michael Roddy)