Freedom News

Charges dropped for 5 Palestine Action activists – Elbit and CPS fail to convict once again!

Five activists have walked free after taking action to shut down Elbit’s military drone engine factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. Due to an “unrealistic chance of conviction” their charges were dropped before a plea hearing due to take place today, with no further action against them after they shut down Elbit’s UAV Engines factory, used for the manufacture of drone engines.

The five had been charged with criminal damage and aggravated trespass on August 22nd, after an action in July which saw activists lock-on to the gates of the factory, shut the site down, and spray symbolic red paint over the factory premises, gates, and inside the gate security office. The site was left inoperable, and Elbit was forced to halt its manufacture of drone parts and engines.

This is not the first time that an ‘unrealistic chance of conviction’ has led charges to be dropped, with four activists walking free in February after shutting down Elbit’s Shenstone factory. These dropped charges came after three activists were acquitted at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court in December 2021 for locking-on and throwing paint at Elbit’s UAV Engines in Shenstone in January 2021.

One of the activists, named Randeep, has said:
Even though they were discourteous enough to drop the charges *after* I booked my train tickets this further confirms what we already knew: we are not the criminals, and frustrating Israel’s colonisation of Palestine is not only a moral duty but a legally sound one

Elbit, which supplies over 85% of Israel’s drone fleet, uses the Shenstone site for the manufacture of drone engines and parts, including for the Watchkeeper drone sold to the British government for use in foreign military interventions, and surveillance and repression of migrants and others by Border Force and police agencies.

To date, no Palestine Action activist has been convicted for shutting down an Elbit Systems site, and all have been either acquitted, seen their charges dropped, or had their cases thrown out by judges. While the Crown Prosecution Service, Police, and Elbit lawyers have been working to jail and silence those standing up to them, both Palestine Action and the courts have so far shown that activists’ accused “crimes” are little compared to the war crimes through which Elbit makes its money.

But there are major trials around the corner. One activist will appear in Manchester Magistrates Court from the 26th to 29th September, charged with ‘obstruction of the highway’ after they locked on to a caravan outside of Elbit’s now-closed Oldham factory, with a four day trial is unusually long for such a blockade charge. Three activists are in London’s Highbury Corner Crown Court on the 5th and 6th October for locking on and shutting down Elbit’s now-closed London headquarters, while the five-week trial of the ‘Elbit Eight’ commences on the 10th October at Snaresbrook Crown Court. The ‘Elbit Eight’ trial will see activists facing ‘conspiracy’ charges after actions taken in late 2020 and early 2021, with the Eight seeking to prove that it is Elbit that is the guilty party.

Activists from Palestine Action throw red paint and locked themselves outside the facilities of “UAV Engines” drone manufacturer near Birmingham on Monday, July 4, 2022. Palestine Action also forced Elbit System to quit its prestigious London headquarters at the end of June. (VX Photo/ Vudi Xhymshiti)

Image: VX Pictures

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