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BREAKING: Judge throws out case against the Bristol 3 who shut down Israeli arms firm

Judge declares the activists NOT GUILTY and rules ‘no case to answer’ as Elbit failed to prove their activities were lawful.

This morning, three activists appeared at Bristol Magistrates Court, Marlborough St, having been charged with aggravated trespass. The British state attempted to prosecute the trio in response to the successful occupation of Elbit System’s Headquarters at the Aztec West (Almondsbury) site in Bristol in November 2021.

Three activists have walked free from Bristol Magistrates Court, having been declared ‘not guilty’ by a judge who needed less than one day of a three day trial to rule that there was ‘no case to answer’ to the charge of aggravated trespass, and the three defendants, Lucky, Alfie, and Meg, have been discharged by District Judge Mark Wattam. They gave a statement:

Today we stood up to Elbit Systems in court, forcing this murderous company to reveal to the public authorities the extent to which it lies to the public about its lethal dealings. Elbit was so invested in maintaining the falsehood that it does not export weapons of mass murder to Israeli defence forces that it was unable to marshal any convincing evidence, failing to answer questions effectively and leaving the judge with no choice but to dismiss the case. Elbit is guilty, and we won’t stop until their secrets are dredged to light and all their sites are shut down.

Last November, on the anniversary of the signing of the Balfour declaration, through which Britain established the grounds for the violent occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land, the three activists scaled the Bristol site of Elbit Systems, at 600 Aztec West, Elbit’s operations at the premises. These operations, we now know, involve the export of military equipment direct from the Bristol site to Israel.

Despite a round-the-clock rapid response to the site by police, who also deployed police dogs, the roof of the site was occupied for a day, halting operations and meaning Elbit could not resume its ‘business of bloodshed’. Meanwhile the offices were covered in blood-red paint, symbolically marking the site as responsible for spilling the blood of Palestinians through the brutal products Elbit manufactures.

The activists were being prosecuted for under section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, for ‘disrupting lawful activity’. Elbit failed to prove that their activity at the Bristol site was lawful, while their witnesses and their statements to police attempted to conceal the fact that the site held active export licenses for the shipment of products to Israel. Elbit failed to put forward a single employee as a witness, Elbit’s only representation was the ex-police Head of Safety and Security for Elbit Systems UK, Martin Kelly, who joined their payroll only after the November action took place.

The defence meanwhile were instructed by Kelly’s solicitors, and were represented in court by Mira Hammad and Rosalind Burgin of Garden Court North Chambers, who exposed the flaws in the Crown’s case with ease. Outside the court, groups of supporters proudly flew Palestine flags throughout the day, drawing significant engagement from passing crowds and motorists and keeping moral high throughout the day. 

Image: Palestine Action

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