Three ‘not guilty’ of assaulting police at anti-Israeli demo, as more evidence emerges of ‘secret’ police files on protesters.

arrestWhen police struggled to arrest a protester at a demonstration against the Israeli Ambassador‘s visit to the Welsh Assembly last June, three of them alleged assault. One said he’d been given a kick in the balls, another that he’d had his wrist scratched, a third that someone had pulled on his arm. Three people were arrested.

But what came out of the court case, as the CCTV showed, was that it was the protesters who had been assaulted. They had behaved, according to the District Judge, entirely lawfully. Yet the three defendants had been pushed and shoved across the road, one had been swung around by her arm, another thrown to the floor.

Why? There were ‘concerns’ the officers said, but none of them could explain further. PC Cook said he ‘feared a breach of the peace’. But he could not tell us why he feared such a thing. “I had reasons,” he said, “but I don’t think I can tell you what they were”.

It was not enough to convince the District Judge and he found all three defendants not guilty, as the police had not proved they were acting lawfully.

PC Cook’s ‘reasons’ had been based on an ‘intelligence briefing’ received by all officers that day. But despite repeated requests from the defence, the contents of this briefing were never revealed.

This is further evidence that the police keep ‘secret’ files on protesters, and that they use this ‘intelligence’ (that even defence lawyers are not allowed to see) to justify assault and arrest. Other material that was disclosed shows that at least half a dozen others were identified at the protest and placed under surveillance, one of them having the movements of his car monitored even after he left the protest.

Protesters are not criminals or terrorists, and should not be treated as though they are. It’s about time the police came clean about what information they keep on their files and how they use it.

Advertisements

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