Postponed from last autumn, the trial of the six people charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage at the ITT/EDO MBM offices in Brighton in January 2009 now begins on May 17th.
On 17th January 2009, as the bombs rained down on Gaza, the six defendants entered the EDO factory. They threw computers and filing cabinets out of the first floor window and took hammers to machinery used for weapons production. Their aim was to disable the war machine and to take action against those who profit from the aerial bombardment of Gaza. The offices were out of action for a month.
It is widely accepted that Israel committed war crimes against the people of Gaza. The arms companies, like EDO, who knowingly supplied the weapons to enable the invasion to happen and are complicit in those crimes.
ITT/EDO MBM supply components to the Israeli army, including release mechanisms and bomb racks for use in fighter aircraft. They have also been involved in the design and manufacture of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which were used extensively in reconnaisance and bombing missions against civilians in Gaza.
Elijah Smith stated before entering the factory “I don’t feel I’m going to do anything illegal tonight. I’m going to smash this arms factory so that it cannot actually work to produce parts for the bombs that are provided to the Israeli army which is killing children. The time for talking has gone.”
Tom Woodhead, another decommissioner, said “Prison does not worry me. What does scares me is the international community’s lack of ability to act in the prevention of grave war crimes”.
Charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage, the six defendants will go on trial as the accusers not the accused. They will argue that they had lawful excuse to disarm the factory because EDO are complicit in war crimes. This follows the precedent set by the Raytheon 9, who were found not guilty at their trial in 2008 for carrying out a similar action in the Raytheon offices in Derry. As Eamonn McCann of the Raytheon 9 has written, “If you hear the sound of a child being brutalised in the house next door and you rush in to smash the door down and save the child, should you be charged with breaking and entering? Obviously not.”
There has been an active campaign against the presence of ITT/EDO MBM in Brighton since the outbreak of the Iraq war. Campaigners include students, Quakers, Palestine solidarity activists, anti-capitalists and academics. Despite an injunction under the protection of harassment act and over forty arrests the campaign is still going strong. Their avowed aim is to expose ITT/EDO MBM and their complicity in war crimes and to remove them from Brighton.
Chloe Marsh, spokesperson for the Smash EDO campaign, said: “The citizens of Britain are no longer prepared to stand idly by whilst Israel commits genocide with the backing of our own government and arms. industries. Brighton is a peace messenger city. ITT/EDO MBM is an obscenity that must be removed from Brighton and the directors of this foul company ought to be tried for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.”