The Bethune deal

July 8th, 2010 at 7:39 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Anti- activists appear to have struck a deal with Japanese officials allowing Pete Bethune to walk free – in return for banning him from future expeditions.

Bethune, 45, who has been in Japanese custody since February after boarding a Japanese whaling ship, was given a two-year suspended sentence in a Tokyo court yesterday. …

In June, he was banned from future Conservation Society expeditions to the Southern Ocean.

The group’s chief executive, Chuck Swift, said at the time that the ban was because Bethune broke Sea Shepherd policy by taking a bow and arrows on to the protest boat Ady Gil, which sank in January after colliding with the Japanese fleet.

However, there are now suggestions that the ban was Sea Shepherd’s part of a bargain that saw Bethune walk free.

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson said last night that the organisation knew what the sentence was several days ago, “because we’d already arranged for Pete Bethune’s air ticket”. He was relieved at the sentence and said the ban on Bethune joining Sea Shepherd’s campaigns was because of “a deal” with the Japanese.

He did not elaborate on the terms of the deal and Sea Shepherd would not confirm last night whether the ban was in return for a suspended sentence.

The outcome is a good one. Having Bethune in a prison would have just made him a martyr. Pleased to see the Japanese Government was pragmatic.

I am not surprised there was a deal. I never thought it likely that Sea Shepherd banned Bethune from future expeditions because he was too violent, considering their long long history of violence.

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19 Responses to “The Bethune deal”

  1. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    “The Japanese Government was pragmatic”. Are you suggesting the Japanese courts are a creature of the Government. The two year sentence for 5 years effectively rules him out of any violent protest against Japanese ships unless he wants to go to prison for 2 years and for any additional time for offences committed. I suspect Bethune will not be stopped.

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  2. metcalph (1,367 comments) says:

    How does one make a deal with the Japanese Courts? This claim has bullshit written all over it.

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  3. kyotolaw (48 comments) says:

    I clicked down to make a comment, but see that two people beat me to it.

    Think about what you are saying DPF. If someone made the claim that a NZ court altered or reduced a sentence to accommodate the government of the day, you would be outraged and rightfully so.

    The courts in Japan have a history of stubbornly making decisions that were inconvenient for the government of the day, and then refusing to alter them on appeal (see the consumer finance interest cases – retrospectively voiding finance contracts, destroying a multi-billion dollar industry and throwing Japanese consumers to the mercies of loan sharks for a prime example).

    Bethune got a suspended sentence because he pleaded guilty early for 4 offences and showed contrition for the offence he pleaded not guilty to. (I still haven’t seen if he was found guilty on that offence, but I assume he was – 99% of prosecutors get guilty verdicts). He has obviously received excellent legal advice and chose freedom over using the court as a platform. If he had pleaded not guilty to all offences and used his testimony as a vehicle for his political views, he would be in jail for 20 years now, I guarantee.

    This may look as though he struck a deal, but it is the reality for all Japanese criminal defendents – you aren’t going to get off, so admit the crime and say sorry quickly. You’ll get out quicker, or get your sentence suspended.

    Your assumption that the Japanese courts are corrupt and dictated to by the Foreign Ministry is even more laughable – the bureaucrats zealously guard their turf.

    FYI, I am a Kiwi with a Japanese law degree although I am not qualified to practice in Japan.

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  4. david (2,194 comments) says:

    When is this non-story going to sink (along with Peter Bethune) into the abyss of meaningless drivel and thus go away.
    The story is nothing
    Bethune is nothing
    The NZ media seem obsessed with making nothing into something and WE JUST DON”T BLOODY CARE

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  5. Yvette (2,763 comments) says:

    Which way does Sea Shepherd want it; our ban is because Bethune broke Sea Shepherd policy by taking a bow and arrows on to the protest boat Ady Gil, or, we only said what we had to to get Bethune home, and our long long history of violence really stands?

    Is Bethune addicted to conservation campaigns? – His wife: “I don’t think he’ll be climbing on any Japanese fishing boats for a while. I still believe he will go on and fight – whether it be for whales or shark-finning in Galapagos.”

    He was aware of the support he had from the public, she said..

    ..doesn’t read kiwiblog, then..

    ..(eh?)…

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  6. Komata (1,220 comments) says:

    So now we just have to sit back in breathless anticipation of articles about ‘Pete Bethune’s Japanese Prison ordeal’ and ‘My Life with Peter’, along with a heart-rending and deathless peice piece from Mrs. Bethune ‘My agony as Peter was in a (japanese) Jail’ from the various women’s magazines. There will of course be the usual media frenzy at Mangere International’ when the ‘hero’ returns, culminating in ‘an absoultely rivetting interview’ on ‘Campbell Live’ where the host will be falling-over himself to fawn and grovel at Bethune’s feet.

    Sadly, because it is so predictable, unfortunate and such a nine-day wonder , it is an interesting reflection of the way 21st Century New Zealand media operates. Who needs truth and the facts when sensation is everything.

    Journalistic standards, what journalistic standards?

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  7. Inventory2 (9,384 comments) says:

    Indeed Komata. Let’s not forget that Bethune is now a convicted criminal, and has been deported from Japan. Whenever he travels now he will have to declare that to immigration. He may find that his travel plans are somewhat curtailed, as less enlightened countries than New Zealand take a dim view of eco-terrorism.

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  8. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    IT now turns out there was no deal.

    There was a strategy which worked out, but there was no deal.
    This comes from Watson the founder of Sea Shepherd..
    Just more slack reporting.

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  9. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    Can NZ fast track the Timor compound?

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  10. Nookin (3,571 comments) says:

    Look at this link. In a word “We will tell any lie we want to so we get our way”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3895553/Sea-Shepherd-about-face-on-Bethune

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  11. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    Nookin, that may bite Sea Shepherd on the bum if any of them get arrested in the future. I’m not sure I’d have trusted them much before, but that confirms suspicions.

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  12. big bruv (14,224 comments) says:

    I note that Bethune plans to have a “huge” press conference when he returns.

    The call to our media must be don’t give this prick any oxygen, refuse to turn up at his press conference.

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  13. Manolo (14,179 comments) says:

    I predict the terrorist Bethune will campaign for the Greens and even run for Parliament in 2011.
    This despicable Luddite is about to de deported from Japan and sent back to NZ. What have we done to deserve this useless individual?

    I do hope there are laws in our country preventing convicted criminals from running for office.

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  14. wreck1080 (4,001 comments) says:

    what do you mean the jap government was pragmatic?

    Are you saying the government interfered in the legal proceedings?

    Surely this is just a case of applying the law, as we would do in NZ. I’d hate to think the government can engineer a court outcome.

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  15. Inventory2 (9,384 comments) says:

    So Sea Shepherd lied … quelle surprise

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  16. Komata (1,220 comments) says:

    Inventory@

    . . . and that SS is an organisation dedicated to opposing the Japanese Whaling by ‘peaceful’ means (as in ‘we’ll say what ‘peaceful’ means as it suits us)

    One wonders if SS would be quite so brave if the JNSDF (Japanese navy) just happened to be in the immediate area (Oh, right, I forgot – thety’ve got Wutthell – and his flag).

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  17. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    I, for one, call for a boycott of the Animal Planet channel for continuing to give moral and likely financial support to the eco-terrorist Sea Shepherd organisation via their programme, Whale Wars.

    If the left can manage it, why not us?

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  18. Jim (35 comments) says:

    It is difficult to believe a group’s claims of a deal when they just admitted to a major lie on a matter of great importance.

    Also, the Japanese authorities would not deal with them in the first place as this would give Sea Shephard standing.

    What did Sea Shephard have that the Japanese would want in a deal and trust them to deliver later? They had Bethune is custody. The Japanese held all of the cards.

    More useful observations are that the trial of Bethune was speedy by any country’s standards, and Japan has a notoriously slow legal system.

    The verdict was delivered quickly in a system that is notoriously slow in this regard too.

    The judge gave a lighter sentence that the prosecutor asked. Obviously, the prosecutor forgot the terms of the deal.

    But the sentence was within a reasonable range of penalties for the offences for an accused that already spent 143 days in remand or in custody. Deportation and 5 years probation are further penalties. Bethune may now find it difficult to travel because he has weapons and assault convictions

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  19. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    I say we all go watch “shake that bear” to celebrate the glorious victory of the heroic left.

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