US court agrees with Japan, rules anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd are pirates
'You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch' to be a pirate, says chief judge of the US Court of Appeals
Agence France-Presse in Los Angeles
A US appeal court has labelled militant conservationist group Sea Shepherd a group of pirates, and cleared the way for Japanese whalers to pursue legal action against them.
"You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch" to be a pirate, declared chief judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals, overturning a lower court's ruling against Japanese whalers.
"When you ram ships, hurl glass containers of acid, drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate," he said. This was true "no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be".
Sea Shepherd is chasing the Japanese fleet hunting whales off Antarctica, as it has done for years in a bid to prevent the mammals being slaughtered. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research and others are pursuing legal action in the United States, branding Sea Shepherd a group of pirates and seeking an injunction against their activities on the high seas.
In its ruling on Monday, the court overturned a district judge's ruling that Sea Shepherd were not pirates. It concluded: "The activities that Cetacean alleges Sea Shepherd has engaged in are clear instances of violent acts for private ends, the very embodiment of piracy."