San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Interpol alert says Paul Watson has escaped from Germany

Marine conservationist Paul Watson has left Germany, Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) reported Monday morning. The OIJ received an alert this morning from Interpol about Watson’s escape. Watson, of the Sea Shepperd organization, faces charges of attempted shipwrecking stemming from a 2002 incident off the Guatemalan coast.

However, Watson’s Costa Rican attorney, Federico Morales, challenged the OIJ statement, calling it “a lie,” the daily La Nación reported, adding that Morales said he met with Watson in Germany over the weekend.

A German court was in the process of determining whether Watson would be extradited to Costa Rica to face the charges.

Watson, 61, faces a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. The statute of limitations on the case will expire in June 2013. Prosecutors filed charges in 2002 against the Canadian captain for allegedly endangering the lives of eight fishermen and for attempting to cause a shipwreck. Watson did not attend a trial on June 26, 2006, and the Costa Rican courts considered him a fugitive.

The star of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars had been under house arrest in Germany. He pleaded with German authorities not to extradite him, saying sending him back to Costa Rica was a death sentence. “There’s a price on my head,” he told The Tico Times in May.

Watson was passing through Frankfurt on his way to France to attend environmental conferences when he was arrested.

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