Media Contact: 07910 329 211
6th October 2006
US War Crimes in Iraq on Trial in Bristol Crown Court. Trial Update: end of week 1 for Peace Campaigners Phil Pritchard and Toby Olditch.
After 3 and half years Oxford Peace Campaigners are on trial in Bristol Crown Court. They were arrested on their way to ground US Air Force B52 bombers bound for Iraq. They gave evidence this week detailing their fears that cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs would be dropped on Iraq constituting a war crime, and that they acted to prevent loss of life in an unjust war.
The pair always intended to account for their nonviolent action and are pleading not guilty to conspiracy to cause criminal damage. They argue that war crimes were about to be committed.
The court heard on Wednesday how a B52 bomber carries over 13 tonnes of bombs.
International expert and Nobel Laureate Rae McGrath gave evidence that the bombs used in the 48 hour Shock and Awe operation would be equivalent to the total used in the whole of the 1st Gulf war.
The closing speeches of the defence and the prosecution took place today. In their closing speech the defence said that the defendants’ actions were reasonable in the light of the crimes they believed were about to be committed.
The judge’s summing up will take place on Monday.
Contact for media 07910 329 211
Venue: Bristol Crown Court, Small Street Bristol BS1 1DA
For further info: see defendents website: www.b52two.org or daily court blog: www.b52two.blogspot.com
Background: Phil and Toby entered RAF Fairford on 18th March 2003 with the intent of disarming B52 bombers bound for Iraq. They carried paint, nuts and bolts to gunk up the engine and fencing pliers intended to damage the aiming mechanism on the bomber. Following their arrest they were held on remand in HMP Gloucester for 3 months. Since then they have been involved in a legal process which culminates in this trial. After 3 years of legal hearings culminating in a five day hearing in the House of Lords the Law Lords ruled out the defendants’ argument that they acted lawfully to prevent a crime of aggression. The remaining defences being argued on their behalf are that they acted lawfully to prevent war crimes and damage to property. The trial of Paul Milling and Margaret Jones also arrested at RAF Fairford on similar charges resulted in a hung jury in September 2006.
 Cluster bombs leave an unmapped minefield of unexploded bomblets and depleted uranium bombs leave a toxic radioactive dust which contaminates farmland, water and anyone that ingests or inhales particles. These radioactive particles cause cancers, birth defects and have been found in Gulf War veterans’ urine almost a decade after the first Gulf War.
PICTURE EDITOR NOTES
Photo’s available from outside court on the opening day of the trial.
Andrew Wood (posting)