Shout it from the Rooftops; Lebanon War Protesters Found Not Guilty
Two anti war activists who scaled the walls of Brighton arms dealers EDO MBM in protest against the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon last August have been found not guilty of Aggravated Trespass.
The action took place after reports of mounting civilian casualties in Lebanon. EDO MBM supply weapons components to the Israeli military including arming units for fighter jets used in Lebanon. The campaigners hung a banner from the roof reading ’16 CHILDREN KILLED IN QANA, LEBANON. EDO PROFITS FROM MURDER’.
During the case Director of EDO MBM Peter Davies, contradicting his own company’s website, denied that the company was acting unlawfully, or had supplied components to the Israeli military, and said that even if they had done, it would not be wrong, even if these components had been used in war crimes in Lebanon.
The District Judge refused to consider arguments showing links between the company and war crimes but found that the two protesters could not have heard police warnings to come down from the roof, and did not believe the Crown’s argument that the two intended to disrupt the operation of the factory. She said that the occupation of the roof was clearly a publicity stunt designed to attract media attention and had been very successful in doing so, having gained international coverage in the UK, France, Germany, the USA and even Iran.
The rooftop occupation of EDO’s bomb factory was the third since 2004 where protesters have been acquitted of all criminal charges, and found to be legally on the roof. There have now been nearly thirty failed prosecutions of campaigners protesting against EDO MBM in Brighton.
Michael Heyman, one of the protesters, said ‘the court’s decision today proves that peaceful protest is not a crime, Sussex Police’s attempts to stifle protest have failed yet again.’
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