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Cablegate: Trial Date Set for Sea Shepherd Seal Hunt Protestors

VZCZCXRO4091
RR RUEHGA RUEHMT RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHHA #0050 1921926
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101926Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL HALIFAX
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1306
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0541
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0004
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0001
RUEHHA/AMCONSUL HALIFAX 1394

UNCLAS HALIFAX 000050

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/CAN AND OES/OA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIS PHSA PREL CASC CA
SUBJECT: TRIAL DATE SET FOR SEA SHEPHERD SEAL HUNT PROTESTORS

REF: A. HALIFAX 0025 (NOTAL); B. HALIFAX 0031 (NOTAL)

1. SUMMARY: Two officers of a Dutch-registered vessel, owned
and operated by the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society, will be back in Canada in April 2009 to face trial over
their involvement in a marine protest against Canada's east
coast seal hunt. END SUMMARY.

2. Court officials in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada have set
April 27, 2009 as the trial date for the captain and the first
officer of the anti-sealing ship the "Farley Mowat" (REFTEL).
On July 2 the two officers, Captain Alex Cornelissen of the
Netherlands and First Officer Peter Hammarstedt, a dual
Swedish-American citizen, pleaded not guilty to charges of
violating Canada's marine mammal regulations by coming too close
to the seal hunt. The two officers are currently free on bail
(presumably in the Netherlands and Sweden) and made their pleas
through their Canadian lawyer.

3. Canada's annual east coast seal hunt started on March 20 and
was accompanied by the usual international protests. At the
forefront was Paul Watson, the controversial founder and head of
the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which owns the
"Farley Mowat." (Watson was not onboard the vessel for this
year's protests having stayed behind in the United States.)
After a three-week game of cat and mouse between Canadian
enforcement personnel and the crew of the vessel, Canadian
authorities eventually determined they had evidence of alleged
seal hunt infractions. On April 12 they subsequently seized the
vessel and detained the crew. The crew members were later
released without charges except for the captain and the first
officer who will answer to the seal hunt violations. The ship
remains dockside in Sydney pending the outcome of a separate
dispute between the Sea Shepherd Society and Canadian
authorities over payment of a release bond.

4. FYI: Post's ACS section reported details of USC
Hammarstedt's arrest case in REF B.

FOSTER

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