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Court in Murmansk leaves another British Greenpeace activist in custody

October 15, 2013, 15:12 UTC+3
Hewetson became the third British environmentalist whom the court left in custody until November 24
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MURMANSK, October 15 (Itar-Tass) - A regional court in Murmansk on Tuesday dismissed an appeal of British citizen Francis Patrick Michael Hewetson, a Greenpeace activist from the arrested Arctic Sunrise ship.

A Greenpeace representative in Russia told Itar-Tass that Hewetson told the court that the piracy charge against him was illegitimate because the Prilazmonaya oil platform as an island rather than a ship and Greenpeace was a peaceful organization and not pirates.

Nevertheless, the Murmansk regional court upheld the decision of the court of lower jurisdiction to arrest Hewetson for two months. Hewetson became the third British environmentalist whom the court left in custody until November 24. On October 11, similar decisions were made on appeals of Philippe Edward Ball and Kiron John Brian.

A court hearing on the case of Italian Greenpeace activist Christian d’Alessandro will resume in Murmansk at 15:30 on Tuesday.

Besides, the court postponed the hearing on the case of Swiss activist Marco Paolo Weber to October 21. His counsel for the defense demanded that a German-language translator be provided for Weber and that all the court materials be translated into German.

The Murmansk regional court dismissed the appeals to release another three arrested Greenpeace activists, including American Peter Wilcox, the Arctic Sunrise captain, Argentine activist Camila Speziale and New Zealander David John Haussman. Last week, the court also extended the arrest of four Russian nationals until November 24.

“Their lawyers are determined to appeal against all actions by the court and investigators,” a Greenpeace representative told Itar-Tass.

On September 18, the Arctic Sunrise ice-breaker with Greenpeace activists onboard approached the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, which was drilling a coastal shelf off the Murmansk region. The activists tried to climb onboard the platform. However, Russian border guards thwarted their actions. The vessel was towed to the Murmansk port. A Murmansk district court arrested 30 Greenpeace activists, representing 19 countries, and sentenced them to two months in prison on piracy charges. They are being kept in custody in several pre-trial detention wards of the Murmansk region.

In the meantime, Russian environmentalists are planning to file lawsuits to Russian and international courts against the Greenpeace environmental movement, the press service of the Russia-based Oka environmental group said. Russian environmentalists believe that Greenpeace activists organize anti-state actions designed to undermine Russia’s economic and political interests under the pretext of protecting the environment.

“Organizations like Greenpeace, that are financed by the U.S. State Department and the security services of NATO countries, have created a network of non-profit organizations engaged in extremist and sometimes even terrorist activities against the key and most competitive Russian companies both at home and abroad,” the Oka group said in its report late last week.

Youth activists founded the Oka inter-regional public environmental movement in the town of Murom, the Vladimir region, in 1989. Initially, their task was to preserve and protect the water basin of the Oka River. Since 2010, the organization has expanded its activities to other Russian regions. The movement’s experts carry out regular environmental inspections of Russian nuclear power plants.

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