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Let’s not have a trial

On 14 July, the high court in London overturned the acquittal of eight anti-militarists for disrupting the set-up of the DSEI arms fair in East London in September 2015.

However, the court also ruled that none of the activists should be re-tried or face costs – partly because all defendants were previously of good character.

The eight had been acquitted in April last year by Thames magistrates court of obstructing the highway on an access road to the ExCeL Centre, home of DSEI.

The eight had argued that they were trying to prevent crimes such as the promotion of torture by stopping equipment from arriving at DSEI, where they claimed illegal arms trading was taking place.

District judge Angus Hamilton ruled that there had been ‘clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015.’ (PN 2594–2595)

After judge Hamilton rejected its attempts to appeal, the crown prosecution service applied directly to the high court for a judicial review.

Lord justice Simon and sir Kenneth Parker ruled that the defence of preventing a crime at DSEI was not relevant because there was no evidence that the commission of a crime was ‘imminent and immediate’ at the time the eight chained themselves up outside the ExCeL centre.

The eight activists are: Isa Al-Aali (Bahrain), Bram Vranken (Belgium), Javier Garate Neidhart (Chile), Luis Tinoco Torrejon (Peru), and Lisa Butler, Angela Ditchfield, Thomas Franklin and Susannah Mengesha (UK).

Topics: Arms trade