The trial of Erwin Vermeulen continued February 1, 2012 in Wakayama, Japan, marking his 48th day of imprisonment. The defense presented their case before the judge. Erwin was led into the courtroom shackled by a rope around his waist, attached to a leash. “By treating him this way they make it appear like he has been charged with murder,” said Captain Paul Watson.
The defense was allowed to bring in a witness, who was in direct radio contact with Erwin during the alleged incident. This witness’s testimony will no doubt be integral to the defense’s case, as the witness would have knowledge of any incident Erwin was involved in while in radio contact. Also the accuser claims Erwin pushed him with a free hand and stated that only one of his hands was full carrying a camera and tripod. This proves his hands were both full as he was carrying camera equipment in one hand his radio in the other.
Erwin said his accuser was engaged in text messaging some distance from where the incident was supposed to have taken place and was not even paying attention to Erwin’s presence. The defense has requested the cell phone records of the dolphin resort employee-to prove this was in fact the case.
After the hearing, Cove Guardian campaign leader, Scott West, was allowed to speak briefly with Erwin. This is the first time anyone other than the legal team has been able to have contact with Erwin since the arrest. A translator was present throughout the conversation so that the prison guards would know every word spoken between the two men.
Erwin’s first two questions were about the status of the Cove Guardian campaign and Operation Divine Wind-Sea Shepherd’s whale campaign in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. He was also extremely surprised and humbled to learn of the overwhelming global support and attention regarding his imprisonment.
It appears his diet has only slightly improved since being transferred from the jail in Shingu. He weighed in at 176 lbs on the day of his arrest and has lost approximately twenty pounds while detained. Scott West was able to bring Erwin a sweater after he remarked last week in court that it was very cold in his cell. He also goes to bed early in an attempt to keep warm. After their brief meeting Scott West remarked that Erwin looked gaunt. “This trial is a farce in that the prosecution does not have a case,” said West.
Even with the lack of evidence and overall weak case of the prosecution, an acquittal is unlikely, as this would harm the judge’s reputation in the eyes of the prosecution and police. However, an acquittal would be an extremely brave act on the part of the judge. The trial continues February 16th when closing arguments will take place and a verdict is expected on February 22nd.
Sea Shepherd is organizing several candlelight vigils in Erwin’s honor.
Currently, the cities participating are:
Philadelphia- February 3
Seattle- February 4
Denver- February 4 – CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW – Re-scheduled for February 16
New York- February 4
Toronto- February 16
Denver- February 16