Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson has skipped out on bail in Germany, fleeing the country over fears he would face extradition to Japan over his anti-whaling crusade.
The 61-year old Canadian was arrested in Germany in May, as reported by Digital Journal, after Costa Rica issued a warrant for him to face charges that he endangered the life of the crew on board a Costa Rican ship, fishing for sharks in 2002.
Reuters quotes a Frankfurt court official saying, "Watson has not reported to the police since July 22." "His attorney informed us that his client had called him saying he left Germany for an unknown destination." A new warrant has been issued for Watson's arrest.
The BBC says Sea Shepherd alleges that the Costa Rican ship was illegal shark-finning in Guatemalan waters, the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its fin and then throwing it back into the sea where it would likely die. Watson was facing extradition to Costa Rica and was out on 250 thousand euros ($300,000) bail. Watson was asking Germany to block the extradition saying he would not be safe in Costa Rica. Sea Shepherd says neither the ship nor the crew had been harmed during the incident.
Sea Shepherd is best known for targeting Japanese whaling ships. News.com.au reports the group's administrative director Susan Hartland says, "We have reason to believe from a reliable source that, once in Costa Rica, the Japanese government may have sought extradition of Captain Watson to Japan to answer charges related to obstructing their illegal whaling activities.''
News.com.au says this year, the Sea Shepherd threw stink bombs at the Japanese Whaling fleet off Australia's coast and used ropes to try to tangle up the ships propellers. The conservation group apparently reduced the fleet's haul by about two thirds.