August 25, 2015 / 7:16 AM / 4 years ago

Court orders Russia to pay compensation for Greenpeace ship seizure

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A court in the Netherlands has ordered Russia to pay compensation for seizing a Greenpeace ship during a 2013 protest against an offshore oil platform, further straining relations between the two countries.

Greenpeace ship "Arctic Sunrise" is seen anchored outside the Arctic port city of Murmansk September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, which resolves disputes between states, said the decision was taken unanimously on Aug. 14, but it was not published until late on Monday.

It found that Russia had breached its legal obligations by arresting and seizing the Arctic Sunrise ship, sailing under the Dutch flag, and its crew of 30.

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman rejected the ruling by the court, which settles legal claims against states. She said the ruling “in effect encourages non-peaceful protesting activity in the sea”.

But the Dutch foreign minister said in a statement on Tuesday that Russia’s response was “unacceptable”.

“The ruling is binding for Russia,” said foreign minister Bert Koenders.

If Russia failed to negotiate over the size of the compensation award, the Netherlands would seek a binding ruling on the size of the compensation due.

Ties between Russia and the Netherlands have also been damaged by the July 17, 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

In the Arctic Sunrise case, the Netherlands is entitled to compensation with interest for costs and damages, the court found.

Russia’s treatment of the activists from 18 countries - who spent two months in detention - drew criticism from Western nations.

Criminal charges were dropped against the activists under an amnesty proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and they were released along with the ship.

Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Thomas Escritt in Amsterdam; Editing by Dominic Evans and Jan Lopatka

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