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St Petersburg City Court rejects appeal over Arctic Sunrise ship arrest, says Greenpeace

June 18, 2014, 19:10 UTC+3 MURMANSK
Greenpeace International lawyers have been seeking access to the detained ship since January
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© EPA/ANGELA KOLYADA

MURMANSK, June 18. /ITAR-TASS/. St. Petersburg City Court has rejected an appeal from international environmental campaigners Greenpeace regarding the judgement of the first-instance court denying access to the Arctic Sunrise ship, arrested after the September 2013 storming of a Russian Arctic oil installation, Maria Favorskaya, a Greenpeace spokeswoman in Moscow, told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday.

“The court has explained its decision by the fact that before the arrest of the ship was annulled, the owner had no such right,” Favorskaya said.

Greenpeace International lawyers have been seeking access to the detained ship since January.

In March, the organisation filed a formal petition with the Russian Investigative Committee regarding the release of the Arctic Sunrise ship, arguing that with all charges against the Arctic 30 activists dropped, the grounds on which the vessel had been originally detained were no longer present. Greenpeace International was also requesting access to the Arctic Sunrise in order to evaluate the ship's maintenance needs.

The Primorsky district court of St. Petersburg dismissed the organisation’s complaint, saying the preliminary investigation was not completed yet, and granting access to the ship might hinder legal proceedings.

In April, Greenpeace International lawyers challenged the decision in St. Petersburg City Court.

Russia’s Investigative Committee annulled the arrest of the protest ship on June 6. Greenpeace was prepared to send the crew and appraisers for inspecting the ship at once, but bureaucratic formalities required for this kept dragging on. The environmental organization then said since its main priority was to get the ship checked by independent surveyors to assess the level of damage, it had decided against revoking its appeal in hope that “a court ruling might become an additional argument for obtaining access” to the north Russian port of Murmansk, where the Arctic Sunrise ship had been held.

Twenty-eight activists and two freelance journalists were arrested by Russian authorities after they attempted to scale Gazprom’s Barents Sea installation.

They were seized by Russian security guards and their vessel was towed to the port of Murmansk. The protesters - nationals of 18 countries and four Russians - were initially taken into custody on charges of piracy, later downgraded to hooliganism.

After two months in a Russian jail, the activists were released on bail. In December last year, Russia formally dropped criminal charges against the crew, released under an amnesty. All 26 foreign activists had returned home by the end of last year.

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