Arctic Sunrise case: Russia ordered to pay damages

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe ship was seized by Russia before being handed back to Greenpeace in June 2014

An international court has ordered Russia to pay damages to the Netherlands over its seizure of a ship protesting against oil drilling.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said the amount of damages would be decided at a later date.

Russia did not take part in the hearings and it is not clear whether it will comply with the ruling.

The Russian authorities confiscated the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise in September 2013.

The ship and 30 people on board were detained after activists from the Greenpeace campaign group tried to scale a Russian oil rig.

The court found that Russia had breached its obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It said the Netherlands was "entitled to compensation (with interest) for material damage to the Arctic Sunrise".

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders welcomed the ruling, saying it "makes clear that the Netherlands - as the flag state - had the right to stand up for the ship's crew".

"The Netherlands sees freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate as public goods that are worth defending," Mr Koenders went on.

The detainees - known as the Arctic 30 - were initially charged with piracy, but the charges were later reduced to hooliganism.

They were released on bail in November 2013 and the charges were later dropped after an amnesty law was passed.

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