Eco-terrorist group Sea Shepherd are bringing legal charges of piracy against the Japanese whaling vessel they recently attacked, after their crippled vessel was abandoned at sea, a loss of over a million dollars, in an incident the group is claiming was an intentional act of piracy by the Japanese.
Claiming that a Dutch crewman was onboard the Ady Gil at the time of the collision, and that the vessel’s nearby “mothership” was registered in the Netherlands, Sea Shepherd intends to press charges of piracy against the vessel in Dutch courts.
Their legal counsel claims to have clear photographic evidence of the Japanese ship violently attacking the Ady Gil, meeting the legal definition of piracy.
With most of the action taking place in international waters, Sea Shepherd’s attacks on whalers are in a legal grey area, though any charges of piracy leveled against either Sea Shepherd or a whaling vessel would be unlikely to result in extradition.
Japanese legislators have been said to be considering whether attackers could be arrested at sea, but given Japan’s generally supine diplomacy this seems unlikely.
Sea Shepherd claim the ruthless Japanese pirates chased them down and aimed their huge ship right at their helpless little craft, intent on causing maximum casualties:
“The Shonan Maru did a quick turn and came in real fast, they were aiming for the cockpit, where the crew were, and fortunately we got the engines in reverse and backed up just enough so that the front of the ship was torn off instead of hitting the cockpit.
They were trying to sink the ship. We put out a mayday distress signal and the Japanese refused to respond – it was a hit and run really.”
The Japan’s Fisheries Agency for their part claim the nimble boat deliberately stopped in front of the much larger and less manoeuvrable whaling vessel:
“You can see that the Shonan Maru is moving to the port to try and avoid a collision and there’s no avoiding the collision with the Ady Gil.
It’s a fast boat, she heads off full steam in front of it and miscalculates. So it’s no wonder that it came to the grief that it has.”
Unlike Sea Shepherd, they have released a number of videos ostensibly supporting their claims.
The Antipodean press has also responded gleefully to chance for some Japan-bashing, eagerly lapping up Sea Shepherd’s melodramatic account of a battle with whale-slaughtering pirates, one rag even calling it a “war”:
“It was the most terrifying moment of my life – when you look up and there’s the bow of a thousand-tonne steel ship hanging above you, about to split you in two. You’re looking death straight in the eye.”
Sea Shepherd’s wealthy backers have already promised a replacement ship, so it seems the dance is set to continue.