A Greenpeace activist from Exeter is amongst a group of 30 who look set to remain in custody for the third week running, despite international condemnation of Russia’s piracy charges against them.
Iain Rodgers, a 37 year-old maritime engineer, was part of a crew detained by Russian authorities since 19 September, following their boarding of the Gazprom Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Arctic sea.
So far, all attempts by individual members of the crew to file for bail have been rejected by the Russian courts. This is in spite of numerous international organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, and the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands calling for the crew’s release. Mounting international pressure has also seen numerous nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, calling for the charges to be dropped.
It remains to be seen if Mr Rogers himself will make an attempt at bail.
Having grown up in Devon, Mr Rogers joined the Star Cross Yatch Club where he learnt to sail. His involvement with Greenpeace began with sailing in 2010, according to their website which continues: “Getting a job with Greenpeace meant he (Rodgers) could use his training to protect the seas he loves.”
On 18 September, he and the rest of the Arctic Sunrise crew were looking to conduct a “peaceful protest” aboard the Gazprom oil platform, against what they felt was environmentally dangerous oil drilling by Gazprom.
Their actions were interrupted by the Russian coastguard, who then proceeded to hold both crew and vessel in the Russian port of Murmansk.
Since then, matters have worsened, with all 30 being charged for piracy by the Russian Court, and the Russian Foreign Ministry accusing the detainees of “aggressive and provocative behaviour,” while boarding the platform.
Russian investigators also claim to have found narcotics such as morphine and poppy straw aboard their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, the latter being an ingredient for heroin and opium products.
In the face of these adversities, Mr Rogers remains steadfast, accusing the Russian Courts of corruption, and saying that all the attention brought to Greenpeace as a result of the situation is “really quite good in a way.”
His mother, Sue Turner, a worker for the National Health Service in Exeter, is not so positive. She was quoted in the Exeter Express & Echo as not being optimistic about the chances of a successful bail for her son. There have also been accusations of mistreatment in Russian custody, though these have been refuted by Russian authorities.bookmark me
For Mr Rogers and his crewmates, the case and their ordeal rumble on.
Bryan Toh, News Team