07/07/2010, 00.00
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Tokyo court issues two year suspended sentence to anti - whaling activist

New Zealand activist of the "Sea Shepherds", Peter Bethune, was arrested in February for assaulting a Japanese whaling ship and will soon return home thanks to conditional release. Protests of whaling supporters. They maintain the activist deserves the death penalty.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) -  A Tokyo court has sentenced a New Zealand activist Peter Bethune, a member of the anti-whaling group “Sea Shepherds", to two years 'probation for impeding the activities of the Japanese whaling fleet in' Antarctic Ocean. The verdict was of a suspended two-year prison term was handed down today.  Bethune will soon be repatriated.

The decision has sparked protests by whaling supporters, who consider whale meat a staple of Japanese cuisine. This morning, a dozen protesters gathered in kimono before the court, shouting slogans like "give him real punishment" and "he deserves the death penalty."

Last January, the New Zealand groups futuristic and modern catamaran was cut in two by a whaling boat the Shonan Maru 2. The following month, Bethune sought revenge by single handedly boarding the ship and attacking the captain with rancid butter, or butyric acid. According to the Sea Shepherds, Bethune wanted to make a citizen’s arrest of the captain for attempted murder of activists and present the bill for the catamaran, about 3 million dollars. But once on the ship he was arrested and taken to Japan.

During the trial Bethune admitted impeding trade, illegally possessing a knife, forcibly boarding the Shonan Maru 2 in the Antarctic and wounding a sailor with butyric acid.    

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