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Saturday, December 10, 2016
Trial of peace protestors begins
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¬†The trial of two Catholic peace protesters began at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday. Susan van der Hijden, 32, from Amsterdam, and Fr Martin Newell, 33, from Canning Town in London, are charged with two counts of criminal damage, totalling £31,000, on a convoy truck used to carry nuclear warheads at RAF Wittering in November last year. The pair broke into the vehicle sheds using a crowbar. They hung banners and spray-painted biblical texts such as "Love is the fulfilment of the Law" and "Proclaim Jubilee". They then set about dismantling a convoy truck with hammers for an hour and a half before going to the nearest guardhouse to give themselves up. Fr Newell and Ms van der Hijden have been in custody since 3rd November 2000. Their defence team is headed by Gareth Peirce who was lawyer to the "Guildford Four". In 1996 Gareth also represented the four women who were acquitted at Liverpool Crown Court after damaging a Hawk aircraft bound for Indonesia. About one hundred people gathered outside the court as the trial began. During the opening session, an MoD police witness told the court that nuclear weapons were kept in Wittering during transportation. Under questioning, he said that a Harrier jump jet had crashed at the base in 1997. If a loaded convoy truck had been hit during such an accident, deadly plutonium could be spread over a huge area. The case continues.
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