More from the T2 trial in Amori today where Prof. Dirk Voorhoof took the stand arguing the T2's case for acquittal. Find more info in the press advisory below.

A HUGE thank you to all those lending their voice and support for the T2....Watch a personal thank you from Junichi and Toru here.

Independent international legal expert calls for Tokyo Two acquittal

Aomori, March 11, 2010 – Today, Prof. Dirk Voorhoof, an independent international expert on freedom of expression, testified at the trial of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, arguing that their actions were justified and that they should be acquitted of any crime as they were revealing detailed information in the public interest.

He said there was no effective alternative way to bring the embezzlement information out into the open. In addition they had no intention to profit personally from their actions; they were absolutely transparent and cooperative in all aspects of their investigation and in their dealings with the authorities, and they caused no major financial or psychological damage to anyone.

Prof. Voorhoof warned that Japanese authorities have already violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in their treatment of the Tokyo Two, and it is becoming increasingly clear from each witness testimony that the official story is unreliable. If a conviction is recorded against the two it would go against the ICCPR and would deter others from exposing government corruption.

This week, a whistleblower told the court that souvenir whale meat was sent to Diet Members (Japanese parliamentarians) and officials from the government’s Fisheries Agency (FAJ), and that officials from the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) also took large portions of expensive whale meat for themselves under the guise of “research”.

An ex-crewmember told the court that high-quality whale meat is set aside during processing and before the catch is officially recorded. This crewmember, central to the embezzlement scandal also told the court that he had never been contacted by Kyodo Senpaku about the embezzlement, which raises serious doubt about the veracity of the internal investigation – which concluded no embezzlement occurred.

“This is not just a case about theft and trespass. This is about organised embezzlement and an issue of public interest in which an NGO, in this case Greenpeace, has fulfilled its role as a public watchdog,” said Prof. Voorhoof.  “If you convict a journalist, a citizen or an NGO for watchdog activities, it has a chilling effect on the future willingness of people to participate in investigations, and in the long term this has an inevitable effect on the quality of democracy.”

“This case is a real opportunity for the court to issue a landmark judgement, where the right to investigate and gather information under the ICCPR is assured, enabling Japan to fulfil its human rights obligations”

“I would like to see Japan join the list of countries that are improving their commitment to human rights.”

The fact that the court has allowed an independent expert witness on freedom of expression to give evidence, shows that it wants to consider these factors in its decision. If it does, “innocent” is the only verdict that can be given in this case.

The court still has to hear evidence from two final witnesses, whalers currently onboard the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. They will appear on May 14th.