Protesters who had blocked the road outside one of the world’s largest arms fairs were cleared of charges on Friday, with the judge finding “credible and largely unchallenged evidence” of wrongdoing at the weapons expo.
In mid-September while the DSEI (Defence Security Equipment International) was underway in London, the five men and three women were charged with wilful obstruction of a highway for attempting to stop delivery of equipment to the arms fair.
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“They said they had acted to stop the sale of weapons to regimes accused of human rights abuses, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Israel,” the Guardian reports.
A statement released in November 2015 by the protesters reads, in part, “Whilst outside the Excel Centre we were being detained and arrested by police, inside businessmen prepared to sell weapons designed to torture, maim and kill, for corporate profit.” They added, “we invite you to question why it is us—and not the war makers and profiteers —that are on trial.”
As the Independent reported, “District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent a greater crime from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armored vehicles from arriving at the exhibition center.”
“[There is] clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015,” the Independent reports Hamilton as saying.
“It was not appropriately investigated by the authorities. This could be inferred from the responses of the police officers, that they did not take the defendants’ allegations seriously.”
IBTimes UK adds:
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