Cocos Island, Costa Rica.
TicoTimes is reporting an intriguing, if entirely unexpected and rather bizarre, possibility in the case of Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, now released on bail in Germany as extradition proceedings continue.
In Costa Rica the Environment Minister and Foreign Minister met with local environmental groups, as a well as Sea Shepherd's director of operations in the Galapagos Islands.
Environment Minister René Castro:
Captain Alex Cornelissen of Sea Shepherd contacted us via Costa Rican nongovernmental organizations including Pretoma to discuss the offer that Captain Watson could come voluntarily to the country to restart joint programs between Sea Shepherd and the Costa Rican government that were suspended a decade ago. The idea is to cooperate in the creations of the international biological corridors, as [Sea Shepherd] has a permanent presence in the Galapagos Islands, which is the closest location to Cocos Island.
Foreign Minister Carlos Roverssi:
We hope to come to an arrangement in Germany in coming hours that can stop this process that has taken such an unnecessary toll on the country. Costa Rica has continuously demonstrated that it is a state of laws, and we have guaranteed to [Watson's] attorneys Watson's physical safety...so that he can present himself in the country and demonstrate his innocence or assume his responsibilities.
All of this comes as Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla is expected to make a speech on creating a green democracy in Berlin today.
While this is certainly an interesting twist, it seems that there are bizarrely mixed messages coming from the two Ministers. Restart collaboration between Sea Shepherd and the Costa Rican government, while simultaneously trying to either extradite Watson or get him to come in on his own? Is this some truly strange carrot and stick waving.
What's really the unnecessary toll on Costa Rica's reputation here, the very curiously timed and executed arrest of Paul Watson or the continued illegal shark fin trade (which only exists because of government corruption at some level) that Watson and Sea Shepherd put themselves in harms way to prevent?
UPDATE: Reuters quotes President Chinchilla as saying that the Sea Shepherd campaign to stop shark finning is "a legitimate cause," adding, "If he does have to return to Costa Rica, he will not only have the proper rigorous protection, but he can also count on having a legal process which will strictly follow the law."
The comments on "rigorous protection" are in response to repeatedly expressed concerns of Watson's that, due to what he claims is a $20,000+ bounty on his head from the shark finning mafia, should he go to Costa Rica his life will be in danger.