Defense minister defends navy’s actions against Greenpeace protestors

Armed forces acted in “absolute proportion” in preventing boats from reaching Repsol ship

Agencies
The moment the Greenpeace activists’ boat was rammed by the Spanish navy vessels.
The moment the Greenpeace activists’ boat was rammed by the Spanish navy vessels. ARTURO RODRIGUEZ (AFP)

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés on Monday said the navy acted in “absolute proportion” and in compliance with a “legitimate” government order when its boats rammed Greenpeace vessels taking part in a protest against oil prospecting off the coast of the Canaries, resulting in injuries to two demonstrators.

A 23-year-old Italian activist was thrown into the water and suffered a broken leg as she was trying to reach the Rowan Renaissance drillship that the Spanish oil giant is using to carry out its search work.

“Not only do I not understand the criticism, but I think [the action] was in absolute proportion,” Morenés told reporters in Brussels during a break from a meeting of European defense ministers.

The boats were “trying to comply with the order to not place the safety of the ship and its operation in danger”

He pointed out that there were “more vessels” trying to board the drillship and the naval boats were “trying to comply with the order to not place the safety of the ship and its operation in danger.”

He added that the ministry has handed over all appropriate information relating to the incident to both the Public Works Ministry and the solicitor general’s office in the Canaries so the relevant authorities can decide if the environmental organization committed any administrative offense by disobeying an order to remain at least one nautical mile from the Repsol ship.

Morenés revealed that the solicitor general’s office would present a complaint over the incident once it had been considered, though he avoided specifying when, or against exactly whom, it would be made.

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