Judge throws out part of Makah whaling case

Tacoma, Washington (AP) 2-08

A federal magistrate in Tacoma has thrown out part of the case against five Makah whalers.

In the decision made in mid Febuary, Magistrate Judge K. Arnold ruled that the federal law enacting the Whaling Convention Act could not be applied criminally to the defendants.

The whalers are still charged with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Trial is scheduled for April. If found guilty, they could face up to a year in prison.

The five harpooned and killed a gray whale in September in the water off Neah Bay.

The Makah Tribe has a treaty right to hunt whales but federal courts have ruled whalers need a federal permit, which is still pending.

The five also face charges in tribal court.