Monday, May 14, 2007

So, this afternoon at about 3pm a full complement of twelve jurors were very quickly sworn in. Their ages appeared to range from early 20's to 50's/60's, of the twelve eleven are women, and one made a secular affirmation rather than swearing on the bible.
Things got under way with the prosecuting QC, Mr Blair, treating us to a brief summary of the case against Toby and Phil. He described what they did - from agreeing (conspiring) to go to Fairford, to cutting the fence and entering the base carrying peace poppies, pictures of Iraqi casualties of the first Gulf War, video and text explanations of their action, a banner, soil and seeds (to transform the runway into a peaceful place), and nuts and bolts to put in the aircraft engines.
Mr Blair sugested that they couldn't have really believed that the action would seriously affect the course or conduct of the 'shock and awe' onslaught which began the war, and that publicity was actually their prime motive. I assume that his purpose in suggesting this was to undermine the defence that the action was a reasonable attempt to prevent the comission of a crime and damage to Iraqi civilian property. He went on to suggest that Phil and Toby (and everyone else in the country) had plenty of other legitimate avenues of protest, and that this action fell outside that category. Yup, the A word came out very quickly (3.33pm according to Ginny, who wins a gold star for paying very close attention). (A for Anarchy, by the way).
Ed Rees, Defence Counsel, explained that while there's no disagreement over the facts of Toby and Phil conspiring and going to Fairford intending to disable B52 bombers, their defence rests on the reasonableness of their actions in the light of their, also undisputed, honestly held beliefs that war crimes were about to be committed. He referred to the facts that Fairford is effectively an American base, that B52s stationed there were being prepared to drop bombs on Iraq, and that these were likely to include cluster weapons and depleted uranium containing weapons. As is widely known, such weapons have effects which cannot be specifically directed at legitimate targets, thus making a belief that war crimes were imminent entirely reasonable. The prosecution has to prove that what Phil and Toby planned was unreasonable despite all of this.
And that was pretty much it for the day. Jury due back at midday tomorrow, we'll let you know what happens.

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