Top Shows

Contact ONE News

Bethune accepts facts, denies guilt

Published: 6:08AM Friday May 28, 2010 Source: ONE News

Anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune accepts the facts of most of the charges against him but has not pleaded guilty to any of them in a Japanese court, his defence lawyer said today.

In the first hearing in Tokyo yesterday, the 42-year-old denied he had any intention to hurt anyone while accepting details of the other charges.

Lawyer Dan Harris says Bethune is arguing that the Japanese whaling operations are illegal under international law and that he was justified in trying to stop them.

TVNZ's Breakfast caught up with Harris by phone overnight and was told while Bethune is not disputing he went on board, he argues he was justified in doing so under international law.

The defence says nobody was ever harmed or in fear and the whole thing is "much ado about nothing".

The prosecution says Bethune interfered with Japanese business and that he put the Japanese whalers in danger.

Bethune boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean in March and it is alleged he threw a substance at a crew member leaving him with burns.

Harris understands the prosecution will seek a three year sentence but he is asking for Bethune to be released immediately. He says the activist has already served three months for "having done pretty much nothing".

Harris says the defence believes the judges are fair and will look at everything that has transpired.

Harris says more interesting than the feeling in the court, was outside the court where Japanese nationalists were calling for Bethune to be hanged.

But he says Bethune has told him that no matter what happens, "everything was worth it" and he is excited about the opportunity to tell his side of the story. And he says Bethune is unbelievably upbeat, "far better than I would ever have imagined".

Harris understands the maximum penalty is anything from 15-25 years but he believes the prosecutor is only going to ask for two and half to three years.