8 Nov 2013

More charges against Arctic oil rig protestors

10:37 am on 8 November 2013

Russia is to press additional charges against several Greenpeace personnel who were arrested for a protest at an offshore Arctic oil rig.

Russia has drawn international criticism over the arrest of 30 people after attempts were made to scale a Gazprom oil platform.

Investigators initially charged everyone on board the vessel Arctic Sunrise with piracy, but said last month they were changing the charge to hooliganism, cutting the maximum prison sentence they face from 15 years to seven. However, Greenpeace New Zealand says the piracy charges have not been withdrawn.

Now the investigators say some of the activists will also face charges of resisting law officers, which would carry a maximum prison sentence of five years.

The ship and those aboard are being held in the Arctic city of Murmansk.

The Netherlands has asked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg to order Russia to release the ship and all those detained. However, Russia, says it does not recognise the case

Russia has also rejected Greenpeace's assertions that the ship was in international waters when it was seized.

Greenpeace says its lawyers have yet to be notified of new charges. A spokesperson in Australia says the organisation is being kept in the dark about what is going on.