Europeans convicted for filming seal hunt
July 18 2009
Windhoek - Two European journalists were fined on Friday by a court in Namibia for filming the annual seal hunt along the coast of the southern African nation, their lawyer said.
British investigative journalist Jim Wilckens and South African cameraman Bart Smithers were found guilty of violating the Marine Resources Act by entering a restricted area without permission, lawyer Raywood Rukoro said.
Both were released after paying a fine of 5 000 Namibian dollars ($625) each, he said, adding that they intended to leave Namibia soon, even though they are not being deported.
"We are happy this is over and we will leave as soon as possible," Wilckens told reporters afterwards.
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The duo was arrested by police whilst documenting the Namibian seal cull. They were kept at police cells at Henties Bay, about 400km from the capital Windhoek.
Wilckens, a reporter with the British-based Eco-Storm agency, and Smithers were working with the Dutch non-governmental organisation Bont Voor Dieren.
Andrew Wasley, co-director of Eco-Storm, alleged that the two had been beaten up by workers involved in the cull.
"One of the two reporters laid a charge of physical assault, but no one has been arrested yet", a police officer told reporters.
The annual commercial seal harvesting season opened on July 1 with a quota of 85 000 pups due to be clubbed and killed for their fur on the Namibian coast. - Sapa
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