Greenpeace to file criminal complaint over ship seizure

By Brendan Manning

Greenpeace activists hold up portraits of the seized crew members of the ship Arctic Sunrise, in a rally in Moscow. Photo / AP
Greenpeace activists hold up portraits of the seized crew members of the ship Arctic Sunrise, in a rally in Moscow. Photo / AP

Greenpeace has confirmed it is planning to file a criminal complaint with Russian police over the seizure of their ship, the Arctic Sunrise.

Serious violations took place when the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) detained the crew and the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, said Alexander Mukhortov, the lawyer representing Peter Willcox, the US captain of the Arctic Sunrise.

"Armed men without identification boarded the vessel while wearing masks and pointing guns at those on board.

"They then took control of the vessel, confiscated personal belongings and put everyone in custody without documenting any of these actions."

Charges of piracy have been laid against the 30 Greenpeace activists arrested, including two New Zealanders.

All crew members of the Arctic Sunrise ship, which was seized in international waters last month during a protest over drilling for oil in the Arctic, now face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Kiwi activists Jonathan Beauchamp and David Haussmann were among those facing jail.

Last Saturday Mr Haussmann's partner Sarah Watson told a group of about 200 protesters outside the Russian Embassy in Wellington that her partner was a peaceful man.

The protest was part of a global Day of Solidarity, where events took place at more than 170 locations in 45 countries to protest against the Greenpeace activists' arrests.

"These are not crazy nut-bars, they're normal peaceful people ... and they believe in the right to peaceful protest and the right of free speech and I believe they deserve some support from everybody, and that includes the New Zealand Government," Ms Watson said.

At a press conference held in Moscow today, Greenpeace International also said they were filing complaints over the alleged violations of the rights of the 30 detainees.

Greenpeace International lawyer Sergei Golubok said in some cells it was cold and there were video cameras around the clock.

"Not all of those detained have access to sufficient drinking water or are able to exercise adequately."

Greenpeace lawyers had also objected to the transportation of activists in police wagons.

Some of those detained have been transported for four to five hours each way to the Murmansk court hearings in cages without food, heating or access to toilet, they claimed.

Appeal hearings will start tomorrow (NZT) against the continued detention of the 28 activists, plus a freelancer videographer and photographer, Greenpeace has confirmed.

The hearings of three Russian prisoners will take place on Tuesday from 9.30am local time.

The remaining 27 hearings were set to take place between Wednesday and Saturday this week.

A video from the interrogation of Captain Peter Willcox by the Investigative Committee on the Arctic Sunrise on Friday, September 28 has been released and can be viewed here:

Video

Greenpeace has also raised concerns regarding the way the ship Arctic Sunrise was being held.

Arctic Sunrise chief engineer Mannes Ubels said the ship's generator will soon stop running, if it hasn't done so already.

"With this, also all the ships main functions will stop working, apart from the secondary system.

"The ship will no longer have an alarm system and common leakages of sea water into the engine room will no longer raise alarms."

Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out raising the issue of the two New Zealanders when he speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of Apec in Bali this week.

A letter Mr Ubels sent to the FSB outlining his concerns can be viewed here.

- NZ Herald

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