New Zealand anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune wept in a Tokyo court today while remembering his anguish when his boat sank in a collision with a Japanese whaling ship, but said he had no intention of hurting whalers during later protests.
Perhaps the enormity of the situation has finally dawned on Pete Bethune. He's broke. His boat rests at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. His wife has given him the flick. And he's in danger of having to develop a tatse for cabbage soup.
C'es la vie. If you do the crime, you have to be prepared to do the time. Bethune laments the loss of his boat - but didn't Sea Shepherd buy it from him, hence the Ady Gil name? His "grief" has a hollow ring to it.
As for the allegations going to the heart of the assault charges against Bethune, have a read of this:
Prosecutors accuse him of conspiring with other Sea Shepherd members, including leader Paul Watson, to "sabotage Japanese whaling in the Antarctic."
They said Bethune and other activists threw glass bottles containing rotten butter at the Japanese boat, causing them to explode, splashing a crew member in the face and slightly injuring him and obstructing the whaling mission.
Bethune today acknowledged firing four or five bottles of rancid butter from a launcher but didn't expect they would break into pieces or spread their content onto crewmembers. He acknowledged that rancid butter could cause skin irritation, but denied his intention of assault.
"Definitely no," he said, responding to a question if he would have still fired them had he known they could hit whalers and cause injuries. He added Watson told him rancid butter was harmless.
Now we'd like to ask a couple of questions too. What generally happens when a glass bottle lands on a hard surface at speed? It shatters. And what would be the point of using bottles as projectiles if they didn't shatter on impact and spread their contents? Very little, we would humbly suggest. Bethune's protestation that he would not have fired the bottles (note "fired"; from some form of launcher) if he had known they might break and cause injury is, quite frankly, lacking in credibility.
Pete Bethune will be a very, very lucky man if he beats the assault charge and the two-to-three year prison sentence that prosecutors are seeking. And if he gets convicted, he will have no-one else to blame but himself; with the possible exception of Paul Watson. That's why we have very little sympathy for Pete Bethune - and his crocodile tears.