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Greenpeace: Jail Term for Anti-whaling Activists?
Zurich/Jungfraujoch (ots) - In a public protest on Mt. Jungfraujoch, timed to coincide with Japan's Oceans Day, Greenpeace activists demanded a fair sentence trial and an acquittal today for Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, two non-violent whale protectors threatened with one year and six months' jail after exposing embezzlement inside Japan's whaling industry.
Under the eyes of Japanese tourists on the "Top of Europe" Greenpeace environmentalists have hoisted an inflatable whale with a banner reading "Jailed for Protecting Whales?", and handed out flyers with the image of the two anti-whaling activists, known as the Tokyo Two, with demands for a fair trial.
The threat of such a harsh, disproportionate sentence has again caught the attention of human rights observers, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay voicing her concern during a recent visit to Japan. Japan has already been criticised by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for violating Sato and Suzuki's human rights during their prolonged pre-charge detention and interrogation.
On June 8, 2010, almost two years after Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki had uncovered a corruption scandal in the Japanese whaling industry, the trial of the two environmental activists in Aomori, Japan, came to a close. Although even the testimony of crew members from the whaling fleet supported the defendants' version of events, the prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 18 months. (1)
"Non-violent protest and the exposure of corruption and other failures of government should never be met with such harsh penalties", said Bruno Heinzer, Greenpeace Switzerland Oceans Campaigner. "Activists are not criminals, and should not be treated as such, especially for political reasons."
The trial verdict is scheduled for September 6. In 99.8% of the cases Japanese judges convict the defendant - Greenpeace emphatically hopes that this time is different. It will make sure the Japanese Government knows that the whole world, Switzerland included, is watching to see how Japan treats the two non-violent whale protectors.
For more information and press photos go to: www.greenpeace.org/switzerland/de/Uber-uns/Medienstelle or contact:
Bruno Heinzer, Oceans Campaign Greenpeace Switzerland,
+41/79/400'88'31 Media Office Greenpeace Switzerland,
Press photos for downloading
login: Presse, password: Greenpeace
Videofootage (available from approx. 3 pm), FTP-Connection:
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Notes: 1) In January 2008, Greenpeace began an investigation into insider allegations that organised whale meat embezzlement was being conducted by crew inside Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling programme, which is funded by Japanese taxpayers. The informer was previously involved in the whaling programme, and following his advice Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki began an investigation, eventually discovering firm proof that cardboard boxes containing whale meat were being secretly shipped to the homes of whaling fleet crew - and then sold for personal profit. Junichi delivered a box of this whale meat to the Tokyo Prosecutors' Office in May 2008, and filed a report of embezzlement. However, the embezzlement investigation was dropped on 20 June - the same day that both men were arrested and then held for 26 days, 23 of which were without charge. The prosecution has asked they be sentence to one year and six-months in prison for "theft" and "trespass".
ots Originaltext: Greenpeace
Oceans Campaign Greenpeace Switzerland
Media Office Greenpeace Switzerland