We're delighted that on Friday 15 April, our friend Angela and seven others were acquitted of criminal charges for their blockade of the 2015 DSEI arms fair (see our statement of 4 February).
The judge at Stratford Magistrates' Court found there was 'clear, credible, and largely unchallenged evidence' that illegal weapons were on sale at the fair as in previous years, and that this 'was not appropriately investigated by the authorities'.* (Favourite DSEI weapons include the cluster munitions that we said posed an 'unacceptable' risk to civilians – reassessed with grim humour as 'democratic' in the recent television thriller The Night Manager.) The Stratford judge held that for the defendants to use their bodies to block roads to the fair was therefore a lawful attempt to prevent the greater crimes of torture and genocide.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade has circulated a statement by the defendants after the five-day trial.
Over the week, we have put DSEI and the arms trade on trial and we have proven them to be illegitimate. Our only regret is that we didn't succeed in shutting down DSEI. Our thoughts are with the people who suffer as a result of the arms trade and the survivors of repressive regimes, torture, war and conflict. We call on more people to join us in our efforts to shut down DSEI 2017 and take collective action to end the arms trade.
* Jon Stone, 'Protesters Who Blockaded London Arms Trade Fair Acquitted After Judge Sees Evidence of Illegal Weapons on Sale', Independent, 15 April 2016. See also 'Court Dismisses Charges Against London Arms Fair Protesters', Guardian, 15 April 2016.