Germany Considers Sending Whale Defender to What Will be a Death Sentence in Costa Rica
Today in Frankfurt, Germany the general Public Prosecutor to the Higher Regional Court requested a preliminary extradition arrest warrant against Captain Paul Watson, on the basis of the local arrest warrant and request for extradition from Costa Rica. In a highly unusual move, the Public Prosecutor stated that the German Ministry of Justice and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the power to stop the extradition procedures on political grounds. If the German Ministry of Justice and/or the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs give notice that they would not grant an extradition of Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case would be over, and Captain Watson would be set free immediately. We ask our supporters to continue to appeal the German Ministry of Justice for help. Sea Shepherd representatives were able to visit Captain Watson in the Frankfurt prison this morning and they were able to record the following statement from Captain Watson: In our efforts to defend the lives of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and fish we have made some powerful enemies, most notably the government of Japan. It is no coincidence that the extradition request by Costa Rica was issued the same month (October 2011) as the Japanese whaling (ICR) lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was initiated.
The extradition request was in reference to a complaint from Costa Rican fishermen who I caught poaching in Guatemalan waters. The fishermen were not injured and their boat was not damaged. The incident was fully documented for the film Sharkwater. Interpol originally denied this extradition order and deemed it as politically motivated. Therefore the question must be asked why Germany is now taking into account accusations made by illegal poachers.”- Captain Paul Watson Captain Watson has travelled extensively throughout the world since the Costa Rican government issued this arrest warrant in October of 2011. He has been to Australia, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, etc. None of these countries have sought to arrest Captain Watson as Germany has. Should Captain Watson be extradited to Costa Rica, he will certainly not receive a fair trial and his safety cannot be guaranteed. The shark finning mafia, which operates illegally in Costa Rica, could try to harm Captain Watson and this reality has him fearing for his life. Sea Shepherd is doing everything it can to provide Captain Watson the best legal defense team possible. Between the illegal Japanese whalers and the shark finning mafia in Costa Rica, Captain Watson has formidable enemies who seek to stop his efforts to defend marine life.
Today I received the request from the general public prosecutor in Frankfurt to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt to issue a preliminary extradition arrest warrant against Paul WATSON on the basis of the local arrest warrant and the request for extradition from Costa Rica. The general public prosecutor gives notice, that the Costa Rican authorities have asked for extradition on a charge which is also a criminal act under the German law (dual criminality rule); the general public prosecutor is concerned that the preliminary arrest is necessary because of the likelihood of an escape of the client. At this stage of the procedure we do not have all the evidence and we do not have any extradition papers from the Costa Rican authorities Therefore the public prosecutor only asks for a preliminary extradition warrant; he does not ask for a decision of the court concerning the extradition itself. Absolutely unusual - I never had this experience in all my practice in cross border cases - is the fact, that the public prosecutor stated, that the German Ministry of justice and the German Ministry of foreign affairs have the power to stop the extradition procedure on political reasons. If the German Ministry of justice and/or the German Ministry of foreign affairs give notice, that they would not grant an extradition from Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case will be over, and Paul Watson will be set free immediately. For an independent public prosecutor this statement is absolutely unusual, and gives a hint, that is not an ordinary extradition case, but to be handled also on the political level.
Sea Shepherd press conference, Germany Frankfurt airport, May 16, 2012