Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada

October 19, 2007 11:12 ET

Humane Society International Canada: Trial of Five Seal-Hunt Observers Put on Hold Until May, 2008

HAVRE-AUX-MAISONS, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 19, 2007) - The trial of five seal-hunt observers entered its second day today, relating to technical violations of Canada's Fisheries Act during the 2006 commercial hunt.

The five accused were to present evidence in a crowded courtroom today, following yesterday's Crown presentation featuring the testimony of a single witness - a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officer.

But as a result of the numerous defence witnesses and the strong expert testimony of video experts expected, the Crown requested an adjournment and a continuance of the trial to build a stronger case and review the video evidence, which the judge granted.

"The Crown took a case that was supposed to have two witnesses - one of them declined to have a bad word to say about us, the other one did his best, but he is pinned down to evidence that I'm in the position to prove simply cannot be true," said Clayton Ruby, the defendants' lawyer.

As a result of the continuance, the trial will resume May 6-9, 2008, at which time the defence will present its video evidence and analysis by video experts.

Ruby remains confident despite the hiatus.

"There's video tape from the government ship, there's video tape from an independent reporter, and there's video tape from some of the accused - all from different angles. This is one of the most photographed events ever and the photographs will show that we are innocent," he said.

The defendants are representatives of The Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States. After documenting the commercial seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in March, 2006, from their small inflatable vessels, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada's DFO charged them with violating a required 10-metre barrier from seal hunters on the ice as a condition of their observation permits.

The defendants - Canadians Rebecca Aldworth and Andrew Plumbly, Americans Chad Sisneros and Pierre Grzybowski, and British citizen Mark Glover - were present on the ice floes to record the annual cruelty of the seal slaughter, providing video evidence of baby seals being clubbed, shot and skinned to concerned citizens around the world.

An information site www.hsicanada.ca has been set up to provide up-to-date information. For video footage please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fih6crGKqRQ

Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at www.humanesociety.org.

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