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Dutch Gov't Seeks Release Of Seized Greenpeace Vessel

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

24 October 2013


The Dutch Government has asked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg for a provisional measure in the case of the Dutch vessel Arctic Sunrise, seeking the release of the ship and its detained crew.

A hearing is expected to be held in Hamburg within two to three weeks, at which the Netherlands and Russia will present their arguments in the legal dispute. The Dutch Government expects a ruling before the end of November.

A statement from Dutch authorities explains that the Netherlands initiated the legal proceedings by taking the compulsory initial step of instituting an arbitral procedure against Russia on October 4, 2013. "A provisional measure is now being sought because the Netherlands Government regards the release of the ship and its crew as a matter of urgency," it said, adding that the proceedings would be conducted under the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, to which both Russia and the Netherlands are party.

The Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise was boarded by Russian armed guards in international waters at 1900 hours on September 19, 2013, and was later towed to Murmansk, a power town situated in the far north-west of Russia. Russian prosecutors have accused the crew of acts of piracy after an attempt by the Greenpeace activists to board Russia's first arctic oil platform, owned by Gazprom. Russia has contended that the group's action amounted to an "attack," classible as piracy under Russia's penal code, carrying a sentence of up to 15 years' imprisonment. Greenpeace meanwhile has challenged Russia's actions arguing that its demonstration was peaceful and that Russia's actions contravened international law.

TAGS: Russia | marine | Netherlands | law

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