During a recent radio program, Costa Rican Minister of Environment described Watson as a “conservation hero” despite a decades-old legal charge over hazardous navigation.
The Minister, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, was hopeful the accusations against Captain Paul Watson in Costa Rica would soon be dropped and the conciliation sought by the environmentalist’s lawyers would signal the end of a drawn-out saga which saw the founder of Sea Shepherd listed on the Interpol Red List.
“This criminal case is more than 10 years old and is not yet resolved, you have this man in legal uncertainty even with a warrant against him. This seems like a real injustice to me, since there has been a conciliation between Captain Paul Watson and the fishermen that generated the conflict which led to this criminal case” said the Minister.
Rodriguez emphasized: “I particularly see Captain Watson as a hero for conservation.” Adding “One of those special people we have on the planet who still want to make positive changes so that human beings are more rational in the management and use of natural resources. I hope that this conciliation he had with the fishermen will help to close this chapter and that the judicial process will be completed, because we would love to invite and receive Captain Watson as he deserves – a hero for the protection of the oceans and sea animals.”
Upon receiving the news Captain Paul Watson said, “This statement by the new Minister of the Environment Carlos Manuel Rodriguez heralds a new chapter for conservation in Costa Rica. At last we now have a government that gets it, a government that will address conservation issues both aggressively and positively. This has never been about me, it has been about what I represent.”
Captain Watson, through his lawyer in the country, Abraham Stern, filed a complaint Thursday before the Public Ministry against ten Costa Rican judges who have intervened “in one way or another” in the criminal proceedings against him.
The circumstances which initiated the criminal accusations against Watson go back to 2002, when a Sea Shepherd ship, under the captain’s command, confronted a fishing boat from Puntarenas, accusing them of shark fining.
Watson and the fishermen reconciled in September 2016 and requested that the out of court agreement be approved by a Criminal Court, but this was rejected because the accusation of “danger of shipwreck” is a crime under Costa Rican law.
Watson’s lawyer questions this rejection and has filed a denunciation of malfeasance. Watson’s legal team also points out that the events took place in Guatemalan waters, thereby questioning the Costa Rican court’s jurisdiction.
The accusation of malfeasance was also raised by the lawyer for the affected fishermen, as they have indicated the conciliation agreement should be respected.