Seven anti-war activists have been cleared of plotting to damage a Brighton weapons factory after claiming to be preventing Israeli war crimes.
During their three-week trial at Hove Crown Court the activists said they were acting with “lawful excuse” during the break-in at EDO MBM in 2009.
The jury in the trial of seven activists who decommissioned a Brighton arms factory to prevent Israel war crimes in Gaza in January 2009, have now found all seven activists not guilty of Conspiracy to Cause Criminal Damage by unanimous verdict in Hove Crown Court.
The seven entered the factory on 16th Jan 2009, causing nearly £200,000 of damage and shutting down production. They offered no defence other than the prevention of imminent war crimes.
Simon Levin, Tom Woodhead, Ornella Saibene, Bob Nicholls, Harvey Tadman were all acquitted on Wednesday. The final two Elijah Smith and and Chris Osmond were acquitted Friday 2 July 2010.
Chris Osmond said “This action was taken was taken because of EDO MBMs illegal supply of weapons to the Israeli military. We brough the suffering of ordinary Palestinians into a British courtroom and confronted with the evidence they took the brave decision to find that our actions were
Extensive damage was caused to the EDO MBM Technology building in Moulsecoomb along with computer equipment and precision machinery. EDO MBM is an approved supplier to the Ministry of Defence and governments worldwide. The activists admitted they broke into EDO MBM in the early hours of 17 January last year and sabotaged equipment worth about £200,000. But they said they were acting to prevent further alleged war crimes being committed by Israel against Gaza.
All have now been found not guilty by unanimous verdict.
Messages of support have already arrived from Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, and 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.’
The trial followed just a few days after 9 people who attempted to decommission Raytheon in Derry during Israel’s 2009 assault on Gaza were acquitted by a jury (see Ireland Indymedia) .
A reminder of what happened: 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 youtube) 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 stopped production at the facility until Israel’s bombing campaign was over.