Thursday, 1 July 2010
Magnificent Victory for the Decommissioners at EDO-MBM Arms Factory
Five of the Seven are Acquitted - 2 Verdicts to Come
Five of the seven accused in the EDO-MBM trial in Brighton, who were accused of criminal damage for having laid waste to EDO’s factory, have been acquitted at Hove Crown Court today. Verdicts will be announced on Friday in the case of the remaining two, including Elijah Smith and Chris Osmond.
This is a magnificent victory, all the more so because the Police deliberately engineered it so that the trial was held in sleepy Tory Hove rather than in more radical Brighton. The Police needn’t have bothered as the jury unanimously acquitted all 5.
The trial lasted 3 weeks though it was originally scheduled for twice that long. The main witness was the CEO Paul Hill, who was extensively grilled in the witness box and made a bad impression on just about everyone with his lies.
The trial has been quite amazing for the way the prosecution has been so ineffective. They first went to the Court of Appeal to overturn a decision of the judge that the defendants could use the defence of lawful necessity to justify their destruction of bomb making equipment. They lost.
And Judge George Bathurst-Norman, who has previously had a record as quite a law’n’order judge, gave a summing up so favourable that some supporters were worried that the jury might react to what they perceived as an attempt to bounce them into a not guilty verdict. We need not have worried! Perhaps the fact that His Honour was born in the Arab town of Jaffa opposite Tel Aviv might have something to do with it! Judge George Bathurst-Norman was brought out of retirement to hear the case.
It all began on January 17th 2009 the bombs as Israel’s attack on Gaza entered its third week and the total of Palestinian fatalities climbed to 1,400 or whom 400 were children, a group of Arms Factory Decommissioners arrived in Brighton intent to disrupt the supply of components to Israel, which were produced at the EDO-MBM factory in Home Farm Road, Moulsecoomb, Brighton.
At the same time, that good Christian Tony Blair went to Israel to shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. Both hands were from eye witness accounts covered in the blood of their victims.
Just after midnight Robert Stafford age 28, Elija Smith 41, Tom Woodhead 25, Ornella Saibene 40, Bob Nicholls 53 entered EDO’s premises with the aim in Elija Smith’s words to ‘smash it up to the best of our ability’. Once inside the building they barricaded themselves in and set about their mission.
EDO’s machinery was used to make bomb release mechanisms (these carry and eject missiles from fighter planes and unmanned ‘drones’) and an assembly area for the electronic components were put out of action. EDO make a VER2 mechanism which is designed for the F16 fighter and used by the Israeli Defence Force.
The six caused £300,000 of damage. The decommissioners were peaceably arrested and charged with criminal damage and conspiracy. Elija Smith has been held on remand in Lewes Prison, Brighton since then. The others are under very strict bail conditions. It has been important to give financial and moral support to Elija. This has included many fund raising events, stalls and letter writing sessions. Their trial commenced on 7th June 2010 in Hove Crown Court.
The action of the Decommissioners is in a long line of people who have been acquitted of attacking and damaging arms production facilities from Trident Ploughshares to the Raytheon protestors in Derry last year. The defence has been that although committing an offence, they are helping to prevent a much more serious crime, in this case a war crime.
see Guardian report