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Ploughshares Trial Day 5
anti-war / imperialism |
Friday July 14, 2006 04:01 by justin morahan - peace people
"They are in court for us, we will support them every step of the way"
Pitstop Ploughshares Trial Day 5
The following is a short summary. Apologies for deficiencies and errors. Quotation marks are not intended to mean that the quotation is an exact rendering of what was said.
Karen, Deirdre and Nuin completed their witness in the course of the day.
At the end of the day, as Kathy Kelly was called to give evidence, the Judge sent the jury home early and, after an hour of legal argument, said that she would make her decision in the morning as to whether or not to allow Kathy on the stand.
Earlier in the morning, the prosecution continued its cross-examination of Karen. It was interrupted four times by Senior Counsel Brendan Nix who objected to the line of questioning being pursued.
Karen agreed to most of the evidence put to her re the action on the night and the preceding events: Féile Bride where she met Kathy Kelly , the visit to Glenstal Abbey with the other defendants, entry to Shannon airport, setting up a shrine, carrying a hammer and inflated hammer, her own part in what she would call decommissioning a war plane.
Mr Devally dwelt at length on the items brought to the action and he put it to Karen that the hammer that she took from Ciaron had some symbolic significance, (it had the words "Hammered by the Irish", on it) such as that she was purporting to do this for the Irish people After Karen had denied any such intent, he persisted without success,. To his remark "What you are saying beggars belief", he got the immediate response; "I am telling the truth".
The next line of questioning was: could Karen say she achieved her objective by her action on the night - to which she replied "For however long this plane was not doing its duty, this was a time of life for those whom it would otherwise have killed. For the time it was doing its duty, it would have been a time of death"
Later she said that if one person survived as a result of her action, that would have been success...I believe that what we did was the only thing I could do to stop people dying...If you disable a plane, you can tell by that, that it will not kill people.. I believe my action achieved this"
The interruptions came when Karen was being asked through a series of examples to define her understanding of "criminal" action and an implication was made that because her arrest was "perfectly lawful" she could not compare herself to a fire-fighter as the prosecution alleged she did. (She did not - the fire-fighter was one of the examples he had put to her.)
The question of presumption of innocence for all the defendants arose. After further legal argument again in the absence of the jury, Judge Reynolds addressed them, telling them that although they had not been advised of it in the Prosecution's opening speech, the presumption of innocence applied to all of the defendants from the beginning to the end of their trial.The fact that a defendant's arrest was lawful and its legality not disputed by the defence in no way implied that there was a presumption of guilt.
There was a difference of opinion as to the legality of Karen's action: the prosecution would like to have her say that she took the law into her own hands but Karen replied that she didn't think that she had done anything illegal, that she believed that it was a right and duty that we should try to stop people from being murdered. She believed that she had a lawful excuse for what she did to the US Navy plane which was in reality a war plane that had no permission to be in Shannon.
Deirdre was next on the stand. In response to her Counsel Mr O'Higgins's questioning, she described the events leading up to her action at Shannon. As a group they had got together to explore their reaction to the threatened war in Iraq, and attended Féile Bríde, organised by Afri, on 29 January 2003. The Féile addresses issues such as social justice, war and poverty. Afri is a non-profit organisation with secular and religious elements, in general solidarity with the oppressed. The theme of this Féile was the oncoming war in Iraq - and it was accepted by all of them that war was coming imminently .Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness spoke about the sanctions against Iraq. She had been in Iraq and spoke in personal terms of what she saw, e.g. no morphine for cancer patients because of the sanctions. These first hand accounts reinforced Deirdre's own knowledge..
Because of the first war in the region, Iraq appeared to be nearly devastated, with much of its infrastructure destroyed, such that another attack would leave the country in ruins - which is what has happened.
After this Deirdre returned to Dublin where she met and talked to her co-defendants and decided to go to Glenstal Abbey, a monastery where people can go for reflection or on retreat. There Deirdre decided on what she wanted to do. If she had the language or medical qualifications she would have liked to go to Iraq. But lacking either of these essentials, she decided to resist the war in her own country.
Asked by Counsel, she related again the events of the morning of 3 February 2003. She entered the hangar through the fence. She it was who spray-painted the Phil Berrigan quote: The War Stops Here.She has no dispute with the photographs that portray the damage to the plane. Her purpose was both practical and symbolic. To take an implement of war and change it into something that would not cause harm, death or damage (cf Isaiah and Micah "To beat swords into ploughshares")
Then her senior counsel got some details of Deirdre's life; she has an Arts degree and Masters degree and has worked as an abstract writer, technical writer, editor and senior editor among other accomplishments.
In cross-examination, Mr Conor Devally asked "Did you take the law into your own hands?" Deirdre replied "The law had been breached, the Geneva Conventions had been breached" She and others had notified the Garda Síochána in Shannon about this and they had not acted. "We were upholding the law"
Yes, a Boeing737 had been disabled,, it was a US navy plane headed for Sigonella and Iraq and she believes that it had a logistic role in the build up for the war in Iraq.
Prosecutor: Your main purpose was to be arrested?
Prosecutor You spray-painted , built a shrine, brought a hammer with slogans on it - this implies publicity.
Deirdre: Your suggestion doesn't make sense to me. Crimes against humanity were taking place. The shrine was small, it contained sacred symbols. . .it was not for the purpose of crass publicity. e had a naive hope (of success). People always need this.
In a short cross-examination by Mr Brendan Nix, Deirdre said that she had been moved incredibly by what she had seen on the video tapes that were part of the shrine, saw the Assistant Secretary General of the UN in charge of Food and Oil programme, bringing medicines to Iraq, and later heard him say that the sanctions were a genocide.
The last witness of the day was Group Captain Geoffrey John Oxley. a group Captain who was working in Intelligence, described as an expert on imagery matters for the legal profession in the US and UK. also an expert in logistics. Among his contributions was the statement that it was possible for a logistics airplane to be a target in a war. And the possibility that taking out a supply plane could save lives down the line - this possibility could not be ruled out. If, before 20 March a belligerent "took out" a weapon this could be considered as an act of war but not if a third party were to perform the same action
The closer the war, the more "attractive" it was to "take out" supplies