Charges dropped for anti-drones activists

IssueApril 2015 - May 2015
News by David Polden

At the end of January, the prosecution dropped criminal charges against against nine London Palestine Action (LPA) activists who shut down a drones factory for two days last summer (see PN 2574–2575).

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (‘drone’) engine factory in Shenstone near Birmingham is owned by Israeli military technology firm Elbit Systems.

Lawyers for the defendants told Electronic Intifada that either Elbit or the UK government decided to withdraw two key witnesses, managers at the factory, in order to avoid them being questioned in court about UK arms export licences.

Armed drones made by Elbit have been used to kill Palestinians in Gaza.

On 17 February, the Elbit factory in Broadstairs, Kent, was closed for the day after LPA protesters climbed onto the roof at 5am and others D-locked themselves to the gate. Elbit workers were told to stay away from the factory.

No-one was arrested, despite the ‘aggravated trespass’.

It would seem the authorities did not want the publicity of a trial. The demo was widely reported however.

Waddington 4

On 10 February, at Lincoln magistrates’ court, the prosecution dropped the charge of aggravated trespass against the four protesters who cut their way into the Reaper drone base, RAF Waddington, on 5 January. The trial on the remaining charge (criminal damage) will be on 27 May.

Amazingly the prosecutor asked for all bail restrictions to be lifted (including not going into Lincolnshire) as there were regular protests at Waddington and the court should not prevent ‘the accused’ from taking part in ‘lawful protest’!

Praying for peace

On 10 February, 50 academics, clergy, members of religious orders, and people training for ordination gathered at Shenstone.

A recording of Israeli drones flying over Gaza was played through a megaphone towards the factory.

After readings from the Bible and the Qur’an, the worshippers dedicated themselves to peace and shouted ‘Stop the drones!’