Friday July 2nd 2010: For immediate release.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
COURT FINDS PALESTINE ACTIVISTS HAD “LAWFUL EXCUSE” TO DAMAGE ISRAEL ARMS FACTORY
Seven Palestine campaigners who admitted “smashing up” a Brighton weapons factory during Israel’s assault on Gaza last year were unanimously acquitted of “conspiracy to cause criminal damage” this week.
The jury at Hove Crown Court agreed with the defendants that their actions were a necessary, direct, and proportionate response to the manufacture of weapons in the U.K for use by the Israeli airforce.
Prosecutors had earlier failed in their attempt to prevent the defendants from using the “lawful excuse” defence to justify the £200,000 damage caused to the EDO MBM arms factory. The seven successfully argued that their action was required in order to prevent “Israeli war crimes”.
Speaking after his acquittal, Chris Osmond said "This action was taken because of EDO MBMs illegal supply of weapons to the Israeli military. We brought the suffering of ordinary Palestinians into a British courtroom and, confronted with the evidence, the jury took the brave decision to find that our actions were justified"
However, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor has criticised Judge George Bathurst-Norman for displaying “a blatant anti-Semitic stand”. In his summing-up, he told the jury, "you may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time".
Prosor told Israel’s largest daily newspaper, YNet, that he was “convinced that His Honor would have ruled differently had he been sitting in the Sderot youth cultural center, rather than on Brighton's sunny shores."
Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) welcomed the news. “The jury clearly disagreed with David Cameron’s bizarre assessment that ‘Israel acted with restraint’ during Operation Cast Lead last year, and determined that those who decommissioned the factory helped prevent even greater loss of life. We will be looking into EDO’s activities in Scotland.”
Napier was one of five SPSC members who had charges of racism thrown out recently when an Edinburgh sheriff ruled their concert protest “was clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians”. “Rather than describe the judge as anti-Semitic,” said Napier, “it is about time for Israel to reflect on itself.”
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland and elsewhere.
For further information on SPSC, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591
(default reply to this email)
2. Smash Edo campaign contacts:
Andrew Beckett or Simon Marsh: 07526557436; 07722953180
3. Background to decommissioning action:
In the early hours of 17th January 2009, during Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead' offensive against Gaza, six people broke in to the EDO/ITT weapons' components factory in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, and, allegedly caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the production line. (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-281XjHw50 for the local paper's video of some of the damage)
The six 'decommissioners' barricaded themselves inside, and proceeded to break computers and other equipment, with the aim of preventing the factory from being able to produce weapons. The action succeeded in stopping production at the factory for some time.
Three others were also accused of conspiring with the six.
A full Press brief is available here:
4. Five activists were acquitted on Wednesday 30th June of the charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, while 2 more were acquitted on Friday 2nd July 2010. Charges against the other 2 of the 9 activists had been dropped previously.
5. Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor is quoted in Israel’s Ynet:
UK: Intruders acquitted for 'preventing war crimes in Gaza'
2nd July 2010
6. Messages of support have already arrived from Caroline Lucas, MP for
Brighton Pavilion, and renowned American political author, Professor Noam Chomsky.
Caroline Lucas said:
'I am absolutely delighted that the jury has recognised that the actions
of the decommissioners were a legitimate response to the atrocities being
committed in Gaza. I do not advocate non violent direct action lightly;
however in this situation it is clear that the decommissioners had
exhausted all democratic avenues and, crucially, that their actions were
driven by the responsibility to prevent further suffering in Gaza.'
Noam Chomsky said
'I would like to express my respect and admiration for those who are
undertaking non-violent resistance to oppose British participation in
Israel's cruel crimes in Gaza.'