Oliver Wallasch, conservationist Paul Watson’s attorney in Germany, on Tuesday confirmed that he had contacted Costa Rican attorney Federico Morales to prepare a defense strategy against charges leveled in Costa Rica.
Morales told the daily La Nación that he will present himself as Watson’s attorney before a local court to obtain access to case files, but he “preferred not to comment on any further details.”
A San José criminal court said its experts are translating an indictment and extradition request against Watson into English, French and German, to be sent to Germany within two months.
Watson faces a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. The statute of limitations on the case will expire in June 2013. Prosecutors filed charges in 2002 against the Canadian captain for allegedly endangering the lives of eight fishermen and for attempting to cause a shipwreck. Watson did not attend a trial on June 26, 2006, and the Costa Rican courts considered him a fugitive.
Article 251 of the Costa Rican Penal Code punishes “anyone who knowingly executes any act which endangers the safety of a boat or floating structure.”
Several local conservationist groups have asked Costa Rica’s government to drop the charges against Watson, but no official statement have been made.
Watson’s arrest is in response to an alleged violation of ships traffic in Costa Rica, which occurred during the filming of ‘Sharkwater’ in 2002,” Sea Shepherd said. The specific “violation of ships traffic” incident took place in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark-finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero, it added in a statement.