Direct action to smash arms bound for Israel is not a crime
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jul 1 02:05:31 BST 2010
Jury clears activists who broke into Brighton arms factory
Five found not guilty after arguing they were
seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes in
van der Zee and
Wednesday 30 June 2010 19.59 BST
Five activists who caused £180,000 damage to an
arms factory were acquitted after they argued
they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes.
The five were jubilant after a jury found them
not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage
to the factory on the outskirts of Brighton.
The five admitted they had broken in and
sabotaged the factory, but argued they were legally justified in doing so.
They believed that EDO MBM, the firm that owns
the factory, was breaking export regulations by
manufacturing and selling to the Israelis
military equipment which would be used in the
occupied territories. They wanted to slow down
the manufacture of these components, and impede
what they believed were war crimes being
against the Palestinians.
After being acquitted, one of them, Robert
Nicholls, told the Guardian: "I'm joyful really,
at being a free man. The action was impulsive
really, we just wanted to do something that would
make a real difference to the people of Palestine."
Another, Ornella Saibene, said: "I've felt very
peaceful all the way through the trial because
I'm proud of what I've done. It was the right thing to do."
They are the latest group of peace and
climate-change activists to successfully use the
"lawful excuse" defence committing an offence
to prevent a more serious crime as a tactic in
their campaigns. The acquitted are Nicholls, 52,
Tom Woodhead, 25, Harvey Tadman, 44, Ornella
Saibene, 50, all from Bristol, and Simon Levin,
35, from Brighton. They had decided to act last
January after three weeks of Israeli military
manoeuvres against Gaza in which many
Palestinians were killed. According to a UN
investigation by former South African judge
Richard Goldstone, Israel committed war crimes by
deliberately attacking civilians during the
offensive known as Operation Cast Lead.
In his summing up, Judge George Bathurst-Norman
suggested to the jury that "you may well think
that hell on earth would not be an understatement
of what the Gazans suffered in that time".
The judge highlighted the testimony by Caroline
Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, that
"all democratic paths had been exhausted" before
the activists embarked on their action.
Hove crown court heard the activists had broken
into the factory in the night. They had
video-taped interviews beforehand outlining their
intention to cause damage and, in the words of
prosecutor Stephen Shay, "smash-up" the factory.
These statements were posted on the Indymedia
website shortly after they were arrested. Dexter
Dias, barrister for one of the defendants,
accused Paul Hills, EDO MBM's managing director,
of lying in the witness box when he said his
company did not supply components which were
being used by the Israeli military. The jury is
considering its verdict on two other defendants,
Elijah Smith, 42, and Chris Osmond, 29 of Brighton.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
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poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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