London, Hong Kong, and Schloss Bellevue in Germany were just a few of the locations where supporters and volunteers from regional chapters of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) gathered today to protest Germany's impending extradition of Captain Paul Watson.
The day of action called SOS or "Save Our Skipper" was timed to coincide with a planned visit to Germany by the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, who met with German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin. Chinchilla today promised that if Germany extradited Watson he would get a fair trial
in her country.
Watson has maintained that it isn't the official process
that concerns him. In a statement on May 22
, the Sea Shepherd founder said:
Although I have no reason to believe that the Costa Rican legal system would not give me a fair trial, my concern is not for the judicial system, but for the reality that the shark fin mafia of Costa Rica has a price on my head and a Costa Rican prison would provide an excellent opportunity for someone to exercise this lethal contract against me.
Watson was apprehended at a Frankfurt airport
on May 13 for his involvement in an April 2002 incident that occurred when the Costa Rican Government requested his assistance to combat shark poaching around Cocos Island, off the shore of Costa Rica. Germany arrested Watson on the 10-year-old warrant and held him in prison until bail was granted last Monday.
Costa Rica has 90 days from the time of arrest to send the required extradition papers to Germany, but the final decision said a German court, rests with the federal justice ministry. Watson cannot leave Germany until he is cleared to do so, but he did attend the rally in Germany today where he told supporters:
We did not injure a single person, we damaged no property. What we did do was to interfere in an illegal shark-finning operation, and we saved the lives of hundreds of sharks. That is our crime.
Yesterday the Former Minister of the Environment of Australia, Senator Ian Campbell, spoke in support
of Watson, and several celebrities have also defended the Captain including Joanna Krupa, Ken Wahl, Simone Reyes, the Barbi Twins, Bridget Bardot, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alicia Silverstone, Elissa Sursara and Rutger Hauer.