14 Derry accused to be arraigned over action against Gaza assault.
14 Derry people are being arraigned at Derry Crown Court, this Monday, 11 January. The proceedings are to take place one day short of the anniversary of the action on 12 January 2009 during which 9 women barricaded themselves into Raytheon’s Derry plant in protest at the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip, during which over 1400 Palestinians, including 320 children, were killed.
Raytheon, whose premises in Derry has been the site of previous occupations and direct action protests, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction and a key supplier of Israeli weaponry, including the devices for deploying “white phosphorous”. In August 2006, 9 male protesters, known as the “Raytheon 9”, were charged with criminal damage after deliberately sabotaging the mainframe computer at Raytheon’s Derry offices. The action was a direct response to the Israeli Defence Forces targeting of residential apartments in Qana, Lebanon, during which 28 civilians were killed with a Raytheon “Bunker Buster” bomb. In June 2008 the “Raytheon 9” were acquited unanimously by a Belfast jury after it accepted that the action was being done in order to prevent further loss of life. In legal terms this is a legitimate defence against the charge of Criminal Damage. During the same trial, representatives from Raytheon admitted that they had continued to supply weaponry to Israel in spite of evidence that it was being used to commit war crimes.
The action on Monday12 January 2009, over which the 14 are now facing charges, had originally been planned by 9 women in direct response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The 9 women went in on the Monday morning after the Israeli bombardment continued unabated after it had dashed hopes for a cease-fire over the previous week-end.
“Our intention was to bring down the mainframe as the “Raytheon 9” had done.” Goretti Horgan, one of the 9 women, told ‘Indymedia’ “We knew from that trial that when the Derry mainframe went down, all of Raytheon’s UK plants were knocked-out. I other words it was a really effective way of stopping the war machine, and we were determined to do the same.” But they didn’t reach the main-frame, and barricaded themselves in until the PSNI gave them an undertaking that they would investigate Raytheon for complicity in war crimes.
The 9 women are now facing charges of Burglary, Criminal Damage and Assault. The last charge is perplexing to most as there were no circumstances during which this can be construed to have happened. During the “Raytheon 9” trial similar charges of Affray had been brought and later dropped amid speculation that a security guard had been pressured by police to make a statement that he later withdrew.
Also facing charges are 5 men who were arrested during action in support of the 9 women who got into the Raytheon plant. All 5 men are charged with “Obstructing Police”, one is being charged with criminal damage, and one with “Personating a Police Officer”. Two of the men are also being charged with Assaulting a police officer after an incident, filmed and broadcast by the BBC, during which a pregnant woman was assaulted by a police officer.
For some of the men, this is their 5th pre-trial appearance in relation to these charges, while for the 9 women this is their third. Many of the proceedings have been taken up in ensuring that all the charged would be tried together at the same Crown (jury) Court.
All 14 are to appear at Derry Courthouse on Bishop Street for arraignement this Monday morning, 11 January. The Derry Anti War Coalition has called for people to join in protest in solidarity outside the court. It is also expected that some of the Derry people who took part in the recently successful Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza will be there in Solidarity.
The 14 people being arraigned are:
Helen Deery, Sharon Meenan, Betty Doherty, Diana King, Goretti Horgan, Róisín Barton, Julia Tor Rojo, Jackie McKenna, Róisín Kelly, James King, Ciaran Gallagher, Brian McFadden, Rory Mac Dermott and Eoin McMonagle. After the arraignment on Monday, it is anticipated the trial will begin in ernest in April or May.
At the time of the action, the PSNI undertook to investigate Raytheon for complicity in war crimes. There is no evidence that this investigation is underway. At the Raytheon 9 trial, evidence came to light which provides basis for legal action to be taken against Raytheon, say legal experts. “Like the Raytheon 9 trial, we intend to turn the tables on Raytheon and put them on trial.” One of the accused Sharon Meenan told ‘Indymedia’ “We will doing it in court here, and later when we pursue the corporation legally. It is, of course, they who are the real criminals”
Related indymedia article from Jan 2009: