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article imagePaul Watson granted bail but activists fear for Captain's life

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By Elizabeth Batt     May 18, 2012 in Environment
Frankfurt - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is reporting that Captain Paul Watson is to be released on bail in Germany next week. The concerned activist group believes that Watson's imminent extradition to Costa Rica is tantamount to a death sentence.
Watson was arrested on May 13 at a Frankfurt airport while on his way to France. The Sea Shepherd leader was apprehended on a warrant from Costa Rica over his involvement in an April 2002 incident that occurred as he was helping to combat shark poaching around Cocos Island.
A German Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt had confirmed that they would push ahead with plans to extradite the Sea Shepherd Captain, squashing previous hopes of an imminent release. Now according to Britain's Guardian newspaper, Watson will be released on bail Monday. Sea Shepherd's spokesman, Peter Hammarstedt, told the newspaper that Watson would spend the weekend in jail and be released once the €250,000 bail funds were available.
Meanwhile, the conservation society said it plans to continue with efforts to halt the extradition of Watson to Costa Rica. In a press statement today, SSCS said they will push forward with the International Campaign to:
Save Captain Paul Watson from a politically-motivated extradition to Costa Rica where he will not receive a fair trial, nor is it likely that he would even survive jail to see the inside of a courtroom.
The organization added that Taiwanese shark fin mafia in Costa Rica have made threats on Captain Paul Watson’s life. Costa Rica is one of the world’s largest exporters of shark fins, a trade thought to be worth millions of dollars and controlled by the Taiwanese mafia. In January 2011, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his TV crew were allegedly held at gunpoint and dowsed with gasoline during the filming of his documentary on the shark-finning trade in Costa Rica.
In a 2010 Costa Rica Human Rights report, the country was criticized for substantial judicial process delays (particularly in pretrial detention and civil, criminal, and labor cases), domestic violence against women and children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, and child labor.
Furthermore said the report, the Ombudsman's Office recorded 27 complaints of police abuse and:
Although the government continued to improve prison conditions during the year, overcrowding, poor sanitation, lack of health services, and violence among prisoners remained a problem in some prison facilities. Illegal narcotics were readily available in the prisons, and drug abuse was common.
Violence and poor conditions for prisoners remain a problem alongside corruption that allegedly runs deep throughout Costa Rica's government.
In July 2011, criminology expert Patricia Molina told The Tico Times that alleged prisoner abuse at the hands of prison guards at Costa Rica's notorious La Reforma prison, could lead to another escape attempt or a possible prison riot.
In May 2011, corruption and guard abuse at La Reforma, led to an escape attempt by prison inmates. The bid for freedom resulted in the deaths of two prisoners and one guard. Eleven days after the riot, Johel Araya, the prisoner behind the escape attempt, was found beaten to death in his jail cell. Ten prison guards are currently under investigation for the murder.
Just four months later, a study by the National Water Laboratory of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA), confirmed the faecal contamination of water within the same prison.
Recently, Ofelia Taitelbaum, a UN anti-torture expert, deplored the dire state of Latin American prisons when he said that no country in the region could call their detention centers humane. Overpopulation in Costa Rican prisons is rife and grew by 28.1% in 2011 said Inside Costa Rica.com.
As for Watson's plight, authorities in Costa Rica now have 90 days to send the required extradition papers to Germany, but the final decision said the German court, is up to the federal justice ministry. Sea Shepherd and its supporters vow not to sit idle, the organization is "Planning a global day of action on Wednesday May 23, to coincide with a diplomatic visit to Germany by Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla Miranda," it said.
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