A German court Wednesday called for the extradition to Costa Rica of Paul Watson, the founder of marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, as he had skipped bail and apparently left the country.
The higher regional court in Frankfurt said Watson’s lawyer had informed it that he had left Germany “for an unspecified destination” and that they had therefore decided to resume extradition proceedings against him.
Earlier this year, Costa Rica filed an extradition request on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.
Watson, a Canadian national who leads the Sea Shepherd organisation noted for its muscular attacks on Japanese whalers, is accused of “putting a ship’s crew in danger”.
The 61-year-old, whom Sea Shepherd members affectionately call “the captain” — and who looks the part with a thick shock of white hair and beard, was arrested at Frankfurt airport in western Germany in May.
He was detained for a week before being released on bail but has not adhered to the terms of the bail since July 22, the court said.
“Since by fleeing, Watson has shown that he can not justify the trust placed in him, the extradition process has been restarted,” the court said.
In an interview with AFP after he was arrested, the activist vowed that his campaign would continue even if he were tried and jailed.
“They hope that by getting me out of the way, they’ll shut down our operations. They won’t,” Watson said.
“This is not about me. It is about our oceans and the ever-escalating threat of diminishment of the diversity of life in our seas. It is about the sharks, the whales, the seals, the sea turtles and the fish,” he said.
On a visit to Germany in May, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said Watson would have a fair trial if extradited to the Central American country.