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UN court orders Russia to free Greenpeace activists

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-18

A UN maritime tribunal ordered Russia on Friday to release a Greenpeace ship and its 30 crew members in return for a €3.6 billion bond to be paid by the Netherlands. The court also called on Russia to allow those detained to leave the country.

A UN maritime tribunal ordered Russia on Friday to release a Greenpeace ship and its 30 crew members in return for a €3.6 billion ($5 million) bond to be paid by the Netherlands.

The UN-mandated International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled Friday that the Russian Federation "shall immediately release the vessel Arctic Sunrise and all persons who have been detained upon the posting of a bond or other financial security by the Netherlands”.

The Hamburg-based tribunal also ordered Russia to allow the vessel and those detained to leave the country.

Thirty people aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise were detained when it was seized by the Russian coast guard after launching a protest at sea near an oil rig belonging to state-run oil giant Gazprom on September 18.

Initially charged with piracy, which can carry a 15-year prison term, Russia late last month reduced the charges to hooliganism, a charge that carries a possible prison sentence of seven years.

Most of the 30 accused have been granted bail, but only four have so far been released.

The Netherlands launched legal action to free the activists, whose ship flies under a Dutch flag, in early October.

"The Netherlands, as the state under whose flag the Arctic Sunrise sails, today started an arbitration process on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ... against what it sees as the unlawful detention of the ship to have it released and its crew freed," Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in an October 4 letter to parliament.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

 

Date created : 2013-11-22

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