News media reports in Costa Rica and Germany indicate that a high court in the state of Hesse has issued an arrest warrant for Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and star of the reality television hit show Whale Wars. Mr. Watson has failed to appear this week before court-appointed German officials assigned to his bail supervision while he awaited extradition proceedings requested by prosecutors in Puntarenas.
Earlier today, an article published on the online version of German tabloid Bild displayed the headline:
“Eco-Terrorist Flees Frankfurt”
“Where’s Paul Watson? – The leader of the militant Sea Shepherd environmentalist organization and self-proclaimed ‘Eco-Terrorist’ has escaped German justice.”
The Bild article goes on to briefly explain Mr. Watson’s arrest in Frankfurt on May 13th, and the alleged boat ramming incident involving a Sea Shepherd vessel and a fishing boat registered in Costa Rica back in 2002.
What’s interesting about the Bild article, in which Kolja Gartner and Radoslav Rajlic share a byline, is the quote from Dr. Ina Knobloch, a German author who believed that an agreement between Mr. Watson and the Chancellor of Costa Rica could have been reached soon after bail was set, at least based on the environmental goals shared by our nation and Mr. Watson. The Bild article continues with a speculation that Mr. Watson may have skipped because authorities in Japan may have been preparing an extradition request based on allegations of Sea Shepherd’s illegal boarding of a Japanese vessel.
In Costa Rica, the evening edition of the Extra TV 42 newscast explained that the German court declared Mr. Watson a fugitive on Tuesday after he failed to check in as required by his bail conditions. Earlier today, a news report by ADN Radio 90.7 FM (part of Grupo Nacion) reported that Don Federico Morales, Mr. Watson’s Tico attorney, was very surprised about at the news of this client’s fugitive status -particularly since he had met with him in Germany over the weekend.
A previous article in The Costa Rica Star touched on the notification by Interpol to the Office of Judicial Investigations in Costa Rica about an e-mail message from Mr. Watson to his lawyer that purportedly stated that he was no longer on German soil. It is not clear if Mr. Watson’s electronic communications were protected by attorney-client privilege, or whether they were subject to monitoring by law enforcement.
This would be the second time Mr. Watson has eluded prosecutors from Costa Rica. After the Varadero incident in 2002, Mr. Watson set sail from Puntarenas on the Ocean Warrior (now the RV Farley Mowat) once his attorney made it clear that criminal charges and prosecution were imminent.