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Bethune needs report for his defence, Greens say

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gareth Hughes
Gareth Hughes

Wellington, May 11 NZPA - New Zealander Peter Bethune needs Maritime NZ's report on the collision between his anti-whaling vessel and a Japanese security ship to defend himself in the trial he is facing, the Green Party says.

The Greens are urging the Government to quickly obtain information from Japanese authorities so Maritime NZ can complete its inquiry into the January 6 collision between Mr Bethune's Ady Gil and the Shonan Maru 2 while the Ady Gil was harassing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday the information was slow in coming and it would be unacceptable for Japan to withhold it.

He said Foreign Minister Murray McCully was working with his Japanese counterpart and would meet Japan's ambassador later this week to try to obtain the information Maritime NZ needs.

The Ady Gil sank after being sliced in two when it collided with the Shonan Maru 2. Both sides have blamed the other for the collision.

In February Mr Bethune, 42, boarded the Shonan Maru 2, hoping to make a citizen's arrest of its captain for allegedly ramming and sinking his ship.

He was arrested when the ship docked in Japan and is now in custody pending a trial on charges of trespass, causing injury, vandalism, carrying a knife and obstructing commercial activities.

The Green Party's oceans spokesman, MP Gareth Hughes, said last night Japan was refusing to co-operate and either had something to hide or was making a deliberate attempt to thwart the course of justice for a New Zealand citizen.

"Pete needs the results of the Maritime NZ investigation for defence in his trial but it seems thus far he has been all but abandoned by the Government," Mr Hughes said.

"If the Government allows the Japanese government to deliberately suppress information that could have a massive bearing on Peter Bethune's trial. It is contributing to a travesty of justice that could see a New Zealand citizen jailed for up to 15 years."

Mr Key said the Government was trying to give Maritime NZ the "greatest ability possible" to understand what took place in the Southern Ocean, and to apportion responsibility for it.

"We need that information, we are requesting it, and taking it up through the appropriate channels," he said.

An investigation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), released this week, failed to find which party was to blame after the Japanese government refused to co-operate and video footage proved inconclusive.

The report said the crews of both vessels had been warned about the dangers of collision before the whaling season began.

"AMSA also communicated its concerns, including concerns about the durability of the Ady Gil in the event of a collision, directly to the master and crew," the report said.

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