Amsterdam, 3 March 2014 - Greenpeace International today filed a formal petition with the Russian Investigative Committee regarding the release of the ship Arctic Sunrise, following the news that the Committee has extended its investigation into a peaceful protest at an Arctic oil platform in late September.
The protest led to the imprisonment of the 'Arctic 30' - a group of 28 activists and two freelance journalists, and the seizure of the ship in international waters.The ship has been detained in Murmansk, Russia since September 24th 2013.
Commenting on today's petition, Greenpeace International legal counsel Daniel Simons said:
"This investigation should have ended weeks ago. The Arctic Sunrise was seized more than five months ago and the Investigative Committee has had more than enough time to complete its work. Instead the ship has been left in freezing conditions, likely without the necessary maintenance, while an investigation continues that should never have been started in the first place.
"The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered an immediate release of the vessel more than three months ago, and the 2013 Amnesty Law was passed in December by the Russian Duma. The Investigative Committee should adhere to the law on reasonable terms of investigation and return the Arctic Sunrise. We expect to be informed very soon as to when this will happen."
The petition argues that with all charges against the Arctic 30 now dropped, the grounds on which the vessel was originally detained are no longer present. Greenpeace International is also requesting access to the Arctic Sunrise in order to evaluate the ship's maintenance needs.
The committee cited the need to examine computer evidence found aboard the ship as the reason for the two month extension, despite the fact that no charges remain against the Arctic 30 or the organisation. In addition, Article 6.1 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure states that investigations should be completed within a reasonable term. Up to now the Russian Investigative Committee has refused to name a timeframe within which the Arctic Sunrise will be returned.
While some property has been returned to the Arctic 30, they have yet to receive all their personal belongings from the ship.
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