Activist convicted for whaler assault by Japanese court

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The Independent Online

A court in Tokyo has convicted a New Zealander of assault and obstructing Japanese whaling ships in the Antarctic Ocean, and sentenced him to a suspended prison term.

Peter Bethune was also found guilty on three other charges: trespassing, vandalism and possession of a knife. He had pleaded guilty to all but the assault charge when his trial started in late May. The court sentenced Bethune to two years in prison yesterday, with the sentence suspended for five years – meaning he will not be jailed.

The assault conviction was for throwing bottles of rancid butter at the whalers aboard their ship, including one that broke and gave several Japanese crew members chemical burns.

Bethune, 45, a former activist for Sea Shepherd conservation group, climbed on to the Shonan Maru 2 in February from a jetski to confront its captain over the sinking of a protest vessel.