We all know of the ongoing feud between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers. We all know that Captain Pete Bethune was arrested and put on trial, but none of the Japanese were (even though it was Bethune’s ship that was destroyed). And despite all the loyal Sea Shepherd supporters, we all expected the trial to turn for the worst.
Well, as it turns out, we were all wrong. Captain Peter Bethune is officially a free man–well, at least for 5 years.
Bethune received a 2 year jail sentence for obstructing the whaling fleet and for assault with the butyric acid bottles that Sea Shepherd uses to throw onto the Japanese ships. However, the sentence is suspended for 5 years. If he can stay out of trouble with Japanese authorities during that time, he will continue to be a free man and not have to go to jail at all. He is expected to return home to New Zealand this Saturday (at the latest).
This is certainly fantastic news and it should be noted that even though none of the Sea Shepherd crew attended any of the trial, it is because of them that he is able to walk free today. Apparently, they made a deal with Japan. What the terms of the deal all are, I don’t know, but it can be speculated that Bethune’s dismissal from future Sea Shepherd anti-whaling campaigns might have something to do with it; although he is allowed to be involved in other ways.
Needless to say, the crew and his family are extremely happy about the verdict. Even the New Zealand Green Party considers Bethune to be a hero.
The only question now is: Where will things go from here for Bethune, his ship, and the rest of the Sea Shepherd crew?