They won! Anti-Militarist Court Solidarity

On the 6th of January 2015 two local people stood trial, accused of disrupting last year’s Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) Arms Fair, now an annual occurrence in Cardiff.

The defendants were accused of throwing red paint at delegates entering the fair, damaging their luxury goods worth hundreds of hundreds of pounds. They were charged with Criminal Damage and breach of s.4A of the Public Order Act (“Causing harassment, alarm or distress with intent”). They were advised that the prosecution would be seeking custodial sentences.

The defendants sought to run separate, distinct defenses. The first was to put forward a factual defense that the police had grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground for no reason. The second defendant contended that they had been acting out of necessity in an attempt to prevent war crimes based on the arms fair’s various links to Israel and the horrific attacks against Gaza that took place over the summer, in the context of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Before the trial started some 30 supporters gathered outside Cardiff Magistrates court for a solidarity demonstration with the two defendants. Several groups came out to support, including Food not Bombs Cardiff, Anarchist Action Network, Afed Bristol, Cor Cochion Caerdydd, Bristol Defendant Solidarity, Bristol Against the Arms Trade, disarmUWE as well as South Wales Anarchists.

Outside Cardiff Magistrates Court before the Trial

Outside Cardiff Magistrates Court before the Trial

Throughout the day defendants and their supporters were followed and surveiled by Police Liaison Officers, who largely failed in their documented intelligence gathering role since all attendees wisely declined to engage with them from the outset.

Court proceedings were delayed for hours as there was no prosecutor – the Crown Prosecution Service was called and the prosecutor who had been appointed to the case said he knew nothing about it. A replacement prosecutor was then speeded to the court.

As the arms dealers and lay prosecution witnesses had also failed to turn up, the prosecution sought to amend the charge to Criminal Damage of the arresting officer’s uniform. One of the police witnesses had claimed paint damage to his uniform – which surely, if it had occurred, would have been the result of manhandling and grabbing the defendants when they were arrested. The District Judge said that this was “moving the goalposts” considerably and that Criminal Damage by paint transfer during an arrest when the police grabbed the defendants would be “ludicrous”.

After lunch the CPS informed us that it would drop all charges. The many supporters in the public gallery broke out into applause and the judge scolded them saying “this is NOT a football stadium!”.

Outside Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Outside Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

The DPRTE arms fair will be returning to Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on the 8th of March 2016. To flog their machines of torture and death. The people of Cardiff and beyond stand ready to oppose them and we ask that you will join us.

For more info on how to get involved with the campaign against DPRTE arms fair, email: stopnatocymru@riseup.net

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Anti Militarist Court Solidarity – 6th January

Via Anarchist Action Network

No arms

6th Jan 2015
Time: 9:15am
Date: Tuesday 6th January 2015
Location: Cardiff Magistrates Court
Address: Fitzalan Road, Cardiff CF24 0RZ

Court solidarity demonstration to support two much-loved people who are facing excessively harsh charges for allegedly seeking to disrupt the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff last year. They stand accused of damaging the luxury goods of arms dealers and organisers with childrens play paint.

There will be a short solidarity demonstration outside the court from 9:15am on Tuesday 6th January 2015. Antimilitarist banners and well-wishers welcome. Afterwards some of us will be supporting the defendants from the public gallery.

URGENT WITNESS APPEAL:
***********************
Were you present at the protest against DPRTE Arms Fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in October 2014? Even if you think you didn’t see anything you may be able to provide useful defence evidence as to the nature of the day.
If you think you may be able to help please email: bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

 

Anti-Israeli protestors set to fight assault allegations in court

Three people are fighting accusations that they assaulted police following a protest last year against the visit by Israeli Ambassador, Ron Proser, to the Welsh Assembly.   The assaults were alleged to have happened as the three were pushed to the ground by police, desperate to keep protestors away from the visiting dignitary.

Ron Proser, war criminal

Ron Proser, war criminal?

Ron Proser’s visit to the Senedd in June 2008 sparked controversy when a number of Assembly Members refused to meet him.  The presiding officer, Dafydd Elis-Thomas pointed to the extent to which Israel had ‘failed to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people’.  Protests were called to coincide with Proser’s arrival at the assembly building. 

However, the ambassador’s arrival was carefully planned to keep him well away from any protest.  A decoy convoy of diplomatic cars was used to draw the protesters’ attention to the main public entrance of the assembly, while Proser himself arrived at the Pierhead Street entrance in a much less ostentatious vehicle. 

Anticipating such a tactic, a group of protesters had gathered in Pierhead street, determined that Proser should witness some of the protest against him.  However, just as he was arriving, the police moved in, apparently to prevent a ‘breach of the peace’.  Three people were thrown to the ground and arrested for assault.  One police officer alleges that he was kneed to the groin, a second that he sustained scratches to his wrist and a third that he was pulled to the floor.

The defendants have described these charges as pure fabrication, intended only to deter people from making any sort of effective protest at the assembly.  ‘I think we upset their plans to keep Proser away from the protests and because of that we were pushed, shoved, thrown to the floor and arrested for things we have not done’, said Val Swain, one of the people charged.  ‘But this is a man who has sanctioned war crimes against Palestine.  It doesn’t seem so unreasonable to me that he should be confronted with protests against the murderous regime he represents.’

The case will be tried at Cardiff magistrates court from the 20th April.  The trial is expected to last for four days.  At least one of the defendants potentially faces a custodial sentence due to the seriousness of the allegations, and it is possible that all three will be sent to prison if convicted. 

All the defendants would appreciate support when the case goes to trial in April.  Please send messages of support to val.swain@yahoo.co.uk .  Anyone able to spare a few hours to support the defendants in court during the trial would be very welcome. 

Trial dates: 20th – 25th April

Cardiff Magistrates Court

Contact for further info: val.swain@yahoo.co.uk