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OTRC: Lucy Lawless pleads guilty to trespassing in oil ship protest case

Lucy Lawless appears in a video provided by Greenpeace New Zealand, taken on board an oil drilling tower she boarded with several other protesters to demonstrated against Shell in February 2012. (youtube.com/user/greenpeacemedia)

Lucy Lawless, star of "Xena: Warrior Princess" and the raunchy Starz gladiator series "Spartacus," has pleaded guilty to trespassing after she was arrested during a Greenpeace protest on an oil-drilling ship and could face up to three years in jail.

The 44-year-old actress told the Associated Press she has "no regrets" about boarding and preventing the vessel from leaving a dock in her native country of New Zealand.

"For the first time in my life, I put my body and reputation on the line to stand up for my beliefs and do the right thing," Lawless said. "I hope I've encouraged other people to do the same."

In February, she and several other activists were detained after they climbed aboard a 174-foot drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki to try to stop the departure of the ship, which was set to travel to the Arctic to drill five exploratory wells. The actress remained there for four days. Shell, which had chartered the ship, has said the protest put people in danger needlessly.

On Thursday, June 14, Lawless and the other Greenpeace protesters entered their guilty pleas at Auckland District Court to charges of unlawfully being on a ship. Prosecutors reduced a more serious charge of burglary, which Lawless called "superb" in a Twitter message. She is set to be sentenced on September 14. Three years in jail is the maximum possible punishment she could receive.

She remains optimistic about the chances of avoiding time behind bars, as she has no prior convictions, but the actress, who often travels for her acting and singing career, told the Associated Press: "If I couldn't travel, obviously that would be a tremendous pain in the neck."

Lawless also clarified on her Twitter page on Wednesday: "I don't work for Greenpeace but I agree with them on the need to move to Clean Energy NOW! Greenpeace has integrity."

During the protest, Lawless and the demonstrators posted information and videos online. The actress let out her infamous "Xena" battle cry while on board the rig.

"I'm taking direct action with GreenpeaceNZ in peaceful protest against Shell's Arctic oil drilling #savethearctic," she Tweeted on February 23.

The actress, who dubs herself an "eco-warrior" on her Twitter page, had also prepared for police to take action against the group.

"Anticipating imminent arrest so doing final cleanup of camp #savethearctic," she Tweeted. "Will be dissapointed (sic) if we have to leave but will go peacefully. We stand in solidarity with all who love the earth - let's #SavetheArctic from @shell !"

The actress played a gas station attendant in a Shell commercial in the early 1990s (see video).

Lawless Tweeted that it was "day2 on the drill rig when I remembered that I had been in a Shell ad 20yrs ago."

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