On October 8, Taiji police arrested 26-year-old German national Nils Greskewitz for causing damage to a statue in the small fishing village. Sea Shepherd under a 2003 agreement with Japan, have removed him from their campaign.
Greskewitz was in Taiji as a Cove Guardian for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) when he was arrested for climbing on a statue of a harpooner at the Whale Museum park. The 26-year-old who had only been in the country since Friday, was charged with vandalism after damaging the statue.
According to Japan Today.com, reports said that Greskewitz had been hanging off the harpoon, thus bending it. Police said the activist denied any intention of deliberate harm.
In a media release, Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson, said:
"Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not condone property damage in Taiji or anywhere in Japan." The guidelines for the Cove Guardians are clear. All activities must fall within the boundaries of Japanese law. This was the agreement we made with Japan in 2003 and we stand by this agreement."
Citing regret for the damage, the conservation group pulled the German national from the Taiji Cove Guardian campaign.
"Greskewitz was acting on his own accord by climbing on this statue" SSCS said, "and was not conducting any campaign-related activities by doing so. Because Greskewitz was acting on his own," the organization explained, "Sea Shepherd has removed him from the campaign and is unable to cover any restitution or legal expenses Greskewitz may incur."
Cove Guardian Leader Melissa Sehgal said that while the group was there "to document and expose the horrific dolphin slaughter," we "will continue to abide by Japanese law."
Last year, Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen was arrested on an alleged charge of assault. Sea Shepherd, who supported Vermeulen's case, said they would provide "legal assistance to any Cove Guardian who is arrested without cause." Vermeulen was eventually acquitted by a Japanese court after more than two months in jail.
According to local Japanese media, the three-meter-high bronze statue, was built in 1998 at the local park and features a whaler throwing a harpoon from a boat.
Under Japanese law, Greskewitz can be held for up to 23 days without charges.