NZ protester denies assault on Japanese whaler

On activist from New Zealand who boarded a Japanese whaling ship as part of a protest in February pleaded guilty yesterday to charges including trespassing and destruction of property, but denied assault.

Peter Bethune, from Sea Shepherd, admitted in a Tokyo court that he climbed aboard the Shonan Maru 2. He also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a knife and obstruction of business – but said he believed he had "good reason to do so". He denied a fifth charge of assault. If convicted, Bethune faces up to 15 years in prison.

Bethune, 45, has said he wanted to make a citizen's arrest of the Japanese captain and handed over a $3m (£2m) bill for the destruction of a protest vessel that sank after a confrontation with Japanese whaling ships a month earlier. The case continues.