Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Lakenheath Intruders On Trial

Airbase raiders fight their corner in court

6th Nov 2003

Seven people who broke into RAF Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk in March this year are facing a trial due to last five days at the end of November/beginning of December.

Lakenheath is the largest US Air Force operated base in England and one of America's primary tactical airbases in Europe. Around 30 nuclear weapons are stationed there. The airbase has played an active part in the bombing of Iraq over the last 10 years and was in a state of preparation for the impending war on Iraq when activists broke in.

The trial, in Mildenhall Magistrates Court, will bring together two groups of defendants; those who got into the base on bicycles and those who, a week later, aimed to obstruct the runways.

Those who got into the base on bicycles, or assisted those who did are: Rupert Eris, from Cromer in Norfolk, Nicola Dean, Martha Scott, Sam Maher, all from Norwich, and Zina Zelter from Leicester. Those aiming to obstruct the runways are Angie Zelter, from Cromer, and Clive Fudge from Norwich Facing a charge of 'aggravated trespass', the defendants will ask the prosecution to prove the airbase was engaged in lawful activity at the time of the intrusion. They will also raise the legality of the Iraq war and the legitimacy of the charge against them under the European Convention on Human Rights. The defendants will call an impressive list of witnesses including Iraq expert, Milan Rai, and Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University. The defendants aim is to suggest to the court that their action, although illegal, was taken to prevent a greater crime and therefore reasonable in the eyes of the law. Peace activists have been successful with this defence before.

One of the co-defendants in this latest trial, Angie Zelter, has twice been acquitted in British courts after taking part in major disarmament actions. In 1996 she was one of four women acquitted after damaging a Hawk aircraft bound for Indonesia, and in 1999 she was one of the so called 'Trident Three' who disarmed the Trident research barge, the Maytime, and were subsequently acquitted at Greenock Sheriff Court.

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