You are hereBlogs / WcP.Observer's blog / NZ to honor law of citizen's arrest and denounce Japan's arrest of Pete Bethune? Experts: Bethune's boarding not illegal

NZ to honor law of citizen's arrest and denounce Japan's arrest of Pete Bethune? Experts: Bethune's boarding not illegal

By WcP.Observer - Posted on 15 March 2010

Top: Captain Bethune shielded from the press as he arrives / is arrested in Tokyo; Bottom: whale sashimi served in Japan
Top L: killing whales. Top R: Arrested... New Zealander Peter Bethune is shielded from view. Bottom L: Japanese protesters rallied against Pete Bethune in Tokyo. Bottom R: Whale meat sashimi dish is served at a restaurant near Wada Port in Minamiboso, Chiba, Japan.

Top L: Pete Bethune, skipper of Earthrace, the world record holder for circumnavigation. Middle: Earthrace, renamed Ady Gil, on new mission to defend ocean life but sunk by Japanese whaler. Bottom: Japanese 750+ tons iron & steel whaling ship running over 17 tons carbon-fibre (fibreglass) Ady Gil (Earthrace), space-age, only-one-of-its-kind trimaran with 6 crew on board including Captain Pete Bethune

On January 6, 2010, 750-ton-steel Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No. 2 sliced open 17-ton-carbon-fibre(fibreglass) Earthrace - also known as Ady Gil, space-age, world record holder, 100% biofuel-powered, only-one-of-its-kind trimaran with 6 crew on board including Skipper Pete Bethune. On February 15, New Zealander Peter Bethune, boarded Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No 2 in the Antarctic Ocean to serve a citizen’s arrest. He has been held by the whalers since then and was arrested on March 12 when the whaling ship docked in Tokyo. Japanese authorities have still to decide what to do about him. "Some Japanese officials have argued that Bethune should have been deported." If New Zealand is to honor her own law of citizen’s arrest, then it seems more appropriate to denounce Japan’s arrest of Captain Bethune and bring him home immediately without creating more unpleasant tension among people or embarrassment between nations.


A citizen's arrest is an arrest made by a person who is not acting as a sworn law-enforcement official. In common law jurisdictions, the practice dates back to medieval Britain and the English common law, in which sheriffs encouraged ordinary citizens to help apprehend law breakers. Despite the practice's name, the arresting person is usually designated as any person with arrest powers, who need not be a citizen of the jurisdiction in which he is acting.

New Zealand - The Crimes Act 1961 states that everyone (not just New Zealand citizens) is justified in arresting without warrant:
* Any person found committing any offence against the Act which the maximum punishment is not less than 3 years' imprisonment; or
* Any person found at night committing any offence against the Act.

NZ Embassy officials: "Mr Bethune has been arrested (by Japan) and charged with trespass."

Who commits Trespass, Piracy (robbery at sea)? Whaler or Bethune? In Whale Sanctuary, 304 females killed: 192 pregnant, 4 lactating… Responses to 'Is the Anti-Whaling Activist Who Boarded a Japanese Whaling Ship a Pirate?' Jim Says: The Japanese are trespassing and poaching within a known whale sanctuary. What type of research results in the SALE of WHALEMEAT to consumers - this is profiteering by the Japanese and they are the actual pirates? AnimuX Says: If Japan prosecutes Pete Bethune, he will become the political prisoner of a tyrannical government that has even violated the basic human rights of its own citizens (remember the Tokyo Two?) in order to support the whaling industry. Not to mention the fact that the captain of the ship that Pete boarded, Shonan Maru 2, is the same man who rammed and destroyed his vessel, Ady Gil, nearly killing Bethune and 5 members of his crew. If anything, the captain and crew of the Shonan Maru 2 should be apprehended and charged by New Zealand authorities for attempted murder.

Feb. 15, 2010, Peter Bethune attempts to serve citizen’s arrest. Legal expert said Bethune's boarding is not illegal under international law. Under marine law, the whaler, the one to accept or refuse citizen’s arrest, has obligation to see Pete Bethune safely back to land. Here are some questions: does the subject of a citizen's arrest have the right to imprison the citizen who delivers the arrest?

Jan. 6. 2010, 750-ton-steel Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No. 2 sliced open the 17-ton-carbon-fibre (fibreglass) Earthrace, also known as Ady Gil, space-age, world record holder;100% biofuel-powered, only-one-of-its-kind trimaran with 6 crew on board including Skipper Pete Bethune. Ocean crying for Justice: victims of slaughter. Mother & calf are killed so is Whale defender Ady Gil (Earthrace).

The Green Party is urging the government and New Zealand authorities to do everything possible to bring anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune home.

Mr Bethune was arrested in Tokyo on Friday - he had been on the whaling vessel the Shonan Maru 2 for nearly a month, after boarding it, intending to make a citizen's arrest of the captain. He took the action after his boat the Ady Gil was sunk, in a collision with the Japanese ship.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says it's time the government stepped in to ensure the campaigner's brought home as quickly as possible.

The government says Mr Bethune will have to go through the Japanese legal system - his legal team and New Zealand Embassy staff visited him in custody yesterday (Pete Bethune has been detained for one month since Feb. 15 by Japanese whalers when he was serving citizen’s arrest).

Sea Shepherd Society's Paul Watson says the Australian Government has the power to step in. "Step up to the plate and do something about this and it's very simple," he said. "One Australian naval vessel down there to escort them out there of those waters and that's all it would take." Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says both the Australian and New Zealand governments need to stand up to the Japanese. "I'm concerned A, he won't get a fair go," he said. "B, the real villains here on the Shonan Maru and in the Japanese fleet are going to be left scot-free because there's a lack of ticker in New Zealand and this spinelessness in Australia at taking the Japanese on."

Whaling opponents urge Australia to take on Japan. Anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune is due to be handed over to Japanese police this morning. The skipper of the Ady Gil has been detained by the Japanese coast guard since Friday. He was taken to Tokyo after boarding a Japanese whaling ship last month to issue a bill for damage to the Ady Gil, which was sunk after a clash in the Southern Ocean in January.

The Sea Shepherd Society's Paul Watson says the Australian Government has the power to step in. "Step up to the plate and do something about this and it's very simple," he said. "One Australian naval vessel down there to escort them out there of those waters and that's all it would take."

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says both the Australian and New Zealand governments need to stand up to the Japanese. "I'm concerned A, he won't get a fair go," he said. "B, the real villains here on the Shonan Maru and in the Japanese fleet are going to be left scot-free because there's a lack of ticker in New Zealand and this spinelessness in Australia at taking the Japanese on."

The leader of Australia's Green Party, Bob Brown, has announced he is backing an international campaign to free Peter Bethune. The New Zealand anti-whaling activist is being held in Japan after being detained when he boarded a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean to serve a citizen's arrest warrant on the captain. That ship arrived in Japan yesterday (March 12).

Mr Brown has warned Japanese courts have nearly a 100 per cent conviction rate, but he is not planning to let people forget about Mr Bethune's plight. Mr Brown says there will be an international campaign to free Mr Bethune, so if either the Australian or New Zealand authorities think the issue is going to go away, they are mistaken.

Meanwhile, Green Party MP Metiria Turei says the government needs to use every possible means to ensure Mr Bethune is brought home without having to go through a trial and a possible conviction.

"It should be the Japanese whaling programme on trial, not Pete Bethune - a Kiwi standing up for what he believes in and for what New Zealanders strongly oppose."

But Foreign Minister Murray McCully told TV3 Mr Bethune had exercised his right to protest and said New Zealand should allow Japanese law to take its course. Earlier today he said New Zealand Embassy staff in Tokyo had seen Mr Bethune last night and consular officials were providing updates to his wife, Sharyn. "He has legal representation and was due to meet his lawyer last night," Mr McCully said in a statement. "Consular staff will continue to monitor Mr Bethune's welfare while he is in custody." He said Mrs Bethune had told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that she didn't want to comment to the media about her husband's situation.

Mr Bethune was arrested yesterday after a harpoon ship he boarded in Antarctic waters last month docked in Tokyo and was greeted by police and nationalist protesters, Agence France-Presse reported. About 20 angry nationalist protesters with Rising Sun flags lined the pier and shouted through megaphones: "Step forward Pete Bethune! Apologise to the Japanese people! We will tear you apart!"

Australia is trying to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and has put forward its own proposal. The meeting is closed to the media but lobby groups are allowed to observe. They say the atmosphere is cordial.
Thursday, 04 March 2010 21:30. Key nations in the whaling debate are meeting in the United States to discuss a compromise deal over the divisive issue. Delegates meeting near Saint Petersburg in Florida are considering a proposal put forward by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to allow Japan, Iceland and Norway to commercially hunt whales. The proposal would include strict monitoring and reductions in the number of whales killed over the next 10 years.

Australia is trying to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and has put forward its own proposal. The meeting is closed to the media but lobby groups are allowed to observe. They say the atmosphere is cordial. This is a preliminary session ahead of the full meeting of the IWC in Morocco in June.

March 2, 2010, a shocking twist. The huge 50ft humpback – one of the world’s largest creatures at – is under threat. In fact, thousands of whales worldwide could soon be condemned to a brutal death: The ‘Shameful’ Deal Set To Unleash A Fresh Slaughter Of Whales. A 24-year ban on commercial whaling is at risk of being overturned, allowing Japan and other whaling nations to resume hunting later this year.

As Mr Bethune sat confined in Japanese custody yesterday his eldest daughter turned 15, unsure of when she would next see her father. Mr Bethune's father, Don Bethune, said yesterday that his granddaughter Danielle, who lives in Auckland, turned 15 yesterday but her father had been unable to contact his family to wish her well. "Ordinarily, no matter where he was, he would be in touch with her by telephone if he couldn't be on site to participate in a party for her."

Mr Bethune described his son as a "unique individual" who was a devoted family man with a commitment to doing what he believed was right. Danielle's mother, Sharyn, was showing "remarkable resilience" through the tough time, which had been a struggle for the family emotionally and financially, he said. The pair have another daughter Alycia, who is 13.

The arrest of Auckland anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune has drawn a mixed response in Japan, with some officials saying he should have been deported. Mr Bethune boarded the Japanese whaling ship No 2 Shonan Maru in the Antarctic Ocean on February 15, to protest the sinking of his trimaran Ady Gil during a confrontation on January 6. He was promptly taken into custody for trespassing, then arrested when the ship docked in Tokyo last week. Authorities have still to decide what to do about him.

Mr Bethune was trying to make a citizen's arrest of the Shonan Maru captain for damaging the Ady Gil -- the former Earthrace vessel -- when he clambered aboard the ship from a jet ski.

The newspaper said it was clear the society aimed to protest against whaling in court and Japanese authorities handling the issue "have been carefully preparing for the case, so as not to give activists ammunition for protests".

"Some officials have argued that Bethune should have been deported."

The Asahi Shumbun newspaper reported on its English-language website that Hajime Ishikawa, an official at the survey division of the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, which oversees Japan's "research" whaling, said the arrest was long overdue. "There was a sense of helplessness with the violence continuing every year and nothing being done about it," Mr Ishikawa said. "Having even one person face justice is meaningful."

But Masayuki Komatsu, a former bureaucrat at the Fisheries Agency, told Asahi Shimbun that the arrest of Mr Bethune served only the cause of the anti-whaling activists. "With the commotion caused by bringing him to Japan, Sea Shepherd has accomplished about 80 percent of its goal to appeal its activities to the world," Mr Komatsu said. "If it were necessary to arrest him, there was the option of asking another country or organisation to do it."


Photos courtesy of BBC News, AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi, Junko Kimura / Getty Images,, and AP

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