Greenpeace activists get suspended jail terms

A Japanese court has found two Greenpeace activists guilty of stealing a box of whale meat, handing them a one-year suspended sentence.

Prosecutors asked the court to jail Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki for 18 months over the theft of more than 20 kilograms of whale meat.

The activists say they intercepted the meat after it was smuggled off a whaling ship by some of its crew.

During the trial the court was told of the systemic theft of thousands of dollars worth of whale meat supposedly taken for scientific research.

Today the court convicted the pair, but the activists have avoided jail.

Suzuki and Sato say they took the whale meat in an effort to prove that crew onboard Japan’s so-called scientific whaling fleet were smuggling it on to the black market.

Outside the court Sato condemned the verdict as outrageous, adding that the two would appeal against their convictions.

The case has drawn international attention to Tokyo’s whaling program.

Greenpeace has condemned the sentences, saying they are disproportionate.