Tuesday, August 25, 2015

International court rules in favour of Greenpeace activist Colin Russell

A Tasmanian man held prisoner for two months after Russian commandos stormed a Greenpeace ship is feeling vindicated after an international court ruled in his favour.

Colin Russell was held in a Russian prison after the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise was boarded in September 2013 and the 30 Greenpeace activists and journalists were detained.

The permanent court of arbitration has found “the Netherlands is entitled to compensation with interest for material damage to the Arctic Sunrise”, the Hague-based body said in a statement on Monday.

It is unclear if the crew is also entitled to compensation.

“I said all along I haven’t done anything wrong,” Russell said on Tuesday.

He and the rest of the “dirty, old, bloody hippies running round trying to protest” Arctic oil drilling spent two months in jail before being given amnesty.

“I suffered a little bit; I’m still recovering in a way,” he said.

“It’s still pretty fresh in my mind, and I’ve also said on the international stage I’m vindicated, but in Russia it’s still written down that I was given amnesty for a crime I didn’t commit.”

Emma Gibson, of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said the protest against the Russian state-owned oil giant Gazprom took place well outside Russia’s territorial waters.

“This ruling shows that governments cannot act with impunity against groups like Greenpeace, and against civil society,” Gibson said.

The activists – who became known as the “Arctic 30” – were initially accused of piracy, a charge later changed to hooliganism, and detained for two months, before being bailed and then benefiting from a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

“Governments are not elected to go out and be the police, the armed guards of the fossil fuel industry,”  Russell said.

Russia did not take part in the arbitration hearing.

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