How Paul Watson Avoided Getting Arrested by Costa Rica

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Source: Paul Watson Facebook Timeline

Source: Paul Watson Facebook Timeline

Paul Watson, the controversial founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and star of the popular reality television show Whale Wars of the Animal Planet cable network, recently left an interesting status update on his Facebook Timeline. Mr. Watson mentioned Ariel Bustamante, the captain of a commercial fishing vessel who was allegedly caught poaching tuna near the Isla del Coco National Park in 2008. With this Facebook update, Mr. Watson is seeking to distance himself from a suspect with whom he shares some unfortunate similarities with.

Ariel Bustamante Sanchez is the captain of the motor vessel (MV) Tiuna, a commercial tuna fishing boat registered in Panama. In late January 2008, the MV Tiuna was allegedly caught poaching tuna inside the 12-mile ocean limit surrounding the isles of Coco off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. About 280 tons of tuna were confiscated and later returned to the MV Tiuna on a technicality.

The Environmental Tribunal court in Costa Rica ordered Mr. Bustamante and the MV Tiuna to pay a fine of 378 million colones (about $756,000) for the damages caused to the delicate marine ecosystem of Coco Island. Prosecutors in Puntarenas filed criminal charges against Mr. Bustamante in 2009; just like Mr. Watson, he ended up fleeing a couple of days before his trial was to commence. Officials in Costa Rica recently asked INTERPOL to issue a notice that will help them arrest Mr. Bustamante and bring him back to stand trial; Mr. Watson was also subject to an INTERPOL notice.

Mr. Bustamante has been able to avoid arrest by Costa Rica since 2009; Mr. Watson similarly and masterfully avoided arrest by becoming a fugitive on more than one occasion.

Readers of the Costa Rica Star are undoubtedly familiar with Mr. Watson’s saga of international escape and evasion as he has even interacted with other readers in our comments section. Articles penned by Mr. Watson as well as his supporters and detractors have also been published by the Costa Rica Star.

It is very likely that Mr. Bustamante will remain a fugitive of the criminal courts in Costa Rica as long as it takes for the statute of limitations to run out. This is something that Mr. Watson successfully accomplished, and earlier this year he revealed to Will Potter of Vice magazine how he was able to do it:

It’s not easy to interview an international fugitive. After encrypted emails, phone calls from unknown numbers, last minute travel plans changed – in multiple countries – I eventually found myself sitting across from Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson sharing vegan lemon chicken and Szechuan noodles and talking about desert islands like nothing could be more normal.

For 15 months, the internationally-known environmentalist and star of the Animal Planet reality TV show Whale Wars has been on the run. He fled Germany in July, 2012, because he was facing extradition to Costa Rica, where he was wanted on charges related to a confrontation with shark finners on the high seas in Guatemalan waters. Watson says he could never get a fair trial there, and his life could be at risk, so he took to the sea.

Readers interested in the escapades of Mr. Watson -and there’s never a dull moment with him- should take the time to read the fine piece by Mr. Potter for Vice. Among the highlights:

  • Volunteers who helped Mr. Watson remain a fugitive codenamed their effort “Operation Where’s Waldo?”
  • Mr. Watson was attacked by ferocious wasps in a Tongan island.
  • In a Polynesian island, Mr. Watson tried to get high by drinking the sedative plant kava, but it did not work.

When Mr. Watson found out he was no longer subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice, he calmly came ashore in California, where customs officers asked him about the availability of Sea Shepherd t-shirts.

Although the Whale Wars TV show has been considerably downsized and Sea Shepherd has suffered some legal setbacks, Mr. Watson remains committed to his direct action mission of marine conservation. It is very possible that, in an effort to stay under the radar and avoid arrest by Costa Rica, Mr. Bustamante may try to become familiar with Mr. Watson’s experiences and adopt them to his own advantage, but he could also benefit from giving up his alleged poaching ways and adopting some of Mr. Watson’s philosophies in this regard.

 

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Kaynak: http://www.underwatertimes.com/link.php?url=http://news.co.cr/how-paul-watson-avoided-getting-arrested-by-costa-rica/34018/


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