Thursday, September 8, 2005
Italian Ploughshares activist's trial postponed. His hunger strike continues.
He's in Jail for Us, We're on the Streets for Him!
based on the report by Susan Van Der Hijden
Turi Vaccaro has maintained a hunger strike in custody since August 10th.
He appeared in court Sept 1st. He is charged with causing several million € damage while engaged in disarmament of nuclear capable F16's.
The court case against Turi Vaccaro did not reach a verdict last Thursday. The judge was accused twice by the defence of being prejudiced in favor of the prosecution. The second accusation will be dealt with in court next week. Turi did not speak, but he let the audience of about 25 people know that he was doing well.
Turi had to appear before the police judge because of the disarming of two F-16 airplanes at airforce base Woensdrecht in the Netherlands on 10th August. His action has made it impossible to use these planes to drop nuclear weapons (like the ones lying in Volkel in the Netherlands). The estimated costs for restoring this ability are 5.000.000 euros.
Turi's lawyers (Eric Hummels, Quaker, and Meindert Stelling, former airforce officer) started the court case by stating that the charges of the prosecution should be found unacceptable because they had not taken the context of the action in consideration.
As an example he said if witnesses see someone cut another man's throat that last person could be sued for murder if the context is not considered. If however the defendent gets the opportunity to explain that he was doing a life saving trachiometry (making a hole in a suffocating persons throat in order to make him breathe) the charges would have to be dropped.
By disarming F-16 airplanes, serious crimes against international justice were prevented. By doing so Turi performed the duty each of us have to prevent such crimes. Because the prosecution did not consider the fact that the Dutch government is involved in commiting crimes against international law through having nuclear weapons in its country and training Dutch pilots to use them the charges should be found unreasonable and be dropped.
The prosecution did not want to answer this statement and simply said that international law did not have a place in this (lower) court. Turi's lawyers demanded the judge would force the prosecution to give a better answer than that and when the judge refused he was then called a "wraking", a Dutch legal term for accusing the judge of being partial.
After this 3 other judges were called together to see if the defence had a valid point here. They did not think so and after some more delay the case was restarted.
Now the defence asked the judge to put in writing his reason for not accepting the complaints of the defence. The judge refused to do so and said he did not want to talk about the complaint at all any more.
At this point the defence lawyer again called a "wraking". This will again be tested by three other judges some time next week.
Turi was brought back to prison in Breda.
HvB de Boschpoort
Nassausingel 26 4811 DG
Breda the Netherlands
Welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a mailinglist for international discussions about the Plowshares movement, civil disobedience and nonviolence. The Plowshares movement tries to reach agreements on disarmament by doing symbolical, yet concrete, disarmament of weapons, using household hammers (usually). The disarmament actions are done accountably and nonviolently. The list is not meant for general discussions about the peace movement such as the dangers of war or social change in general. Read about the Plowshares movement at, for example,http://www.plowshares.se/english/
During trials most of the Ploughshares defendants have represented themselves and have been assisted by legal advisers. Many Ploughshares defendants have attempted to show that their actions were morally and legally justified, and that their intent was to protect life, not commit a crime. Almost all US judges have denied this testimony and have prohibited the justification/necessity defenses, whereas in Europe the situation is different.
Some US judges, including those who presided in the trials of the Epiphany Ploughshares and Pax-Christi Spirit of Life Ploughshares, issued gag orders and found defendants in contempt of court for speaking about the truth of their action. Those convicted for Ploughshares actions have received sentences ranging from suspended sentences to 18 years in prison. The average prison sentence has been between one and two years.