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Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Catholic campaigners fined after anti-war protest
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¬†Four Catholics were convicted of Criminal Damage at Bow Street Magistrates Court, for an anti-war protest they staged outside the Ministry of Defence on 28 December 2004. when they had begun to convert the front lawn of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) building on Whitehall into a war cemetery in memory of the dead of the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. The four were Liz Yates, Scott Albrecht, Chris Cole and Fr Martin Newell cp chose the Feast of the Holy Innocence to begin digging a symbolic 'war grave' in the lawn outside the Mod for those being killed in the war on Iraq, Mr Cole and Fr Newell were ordered to pay compensation of £416 each. Mr Albrecht and Miss Yates were ordered to pay £80 compensation. They were also given Court costs of £200 each and conditionally discharged for two years. The magistrate, in her judgement, recognised the actions of the defendants as an act of witness, and the integrity and dignity of the defendants in presenting their case. Scott Albrecht and Liz Yates had been digging graves, with a child's coffin ready to be placed in one. Chris Cole and Fr Martin Newell had begun to inscribe a wall as a memorial with the words "Remember Iraqi War Dead", "Slaughter of the Innocent" and "Stop the War" in red paint. "Father Forgive Us" was also written on the ground. Prayers of repentance and remembrance were said. Scott Albrecht said in court: "We acted to uphold human law and the law of God. The human law is the United Nations Charter. The law of God is "love your enemies." In his statement, Chris Cole said: " I acted to try to bring home the truth that war and violence are sinful and inevitably leads to the massacre of innocents. The prophet Jeremiah castigated hypocritical leaders: 'They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush.'" (Jer 6:14-15) Fr Newell said: "I believed that the best way I could try to prevent the high crimes of our government and country in Iraq, was to disturb the consciences of the military and political decision makers in the MoD and Whitehall: to remind them of the death and destruction, the grief and the blood that is still being shed in Iraq." Under cross examination, Liz Yates said: "It is important to act as well as communicate a message. Action without communication is cynical. Communication without action is sentimental." Scott Albrecht lives in St Albans. He is 41 years old and married with four children. Liz Yates lives in Kent. Chris Cole lives in Northamptonshire. He is 41 and is married with three children. Fr Martin Newell lives in Hackney. He is a Catholic priest and member of the Passionist Order.
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