Activists face trial following two-day action at Kent-based arms factory

Seven anti-militarist activists are due to attend Folkestone Magistrates Court tomorrow to enter their pleas in an aggravated trespass case relating to an action at Elbit-Instro arms factory. The alleged offence carries a maximum sentence of three months in prison. A number of the activists are locally connected to Kent.

The activists were arrested last month following a two-day occupation at the Elbit-Instro arms factory, which is newly situated in Discovery Park business park in Sandwich, Kent.

Instro is a UK-based subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., an international defense electronics company supplying military equipment to countries with records of human rights abuses such as Israel, Turkey, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Elbit is Israel’s largest privately-owned arms company and provides 85% of Israel’s drones, used to attack Gaza’s civilian population repeatedly. Drones were used during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge which killed over two thousand civilians, including over five hundred children.

It is also contended that Elbit-Instro has a trading relationship with Turkey. Turkey is currently embarked upon a bloody war against the Kurdish population, both within its own borders and in Kurdish-held areas of Northern Syria. As a result of Turkey’s most recent military offensive, thousands of ISIS supporters managed to escape from military prisons and camps.

Elbit-Instro is unpopular with the local community following a failed bid to take over the former Manston Airport site.

A spokesperson for Stop Elbit-Instro Defendants Solidarity Campaign said: “The skilled engineers of Elbit-Instro could be working to make the world a better place, yet instead they are employed to build machines that incinerate children. Shame on them all.”

A spokesperson for East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: “We know Instro have been granted export licenses to Turkey in recent years. There are urgent questions about whether Instro’s specialist targeting technology is employed by Israel for targeting Gazan civilians every Friday during the Great Return March civil rights demonstrations, or in maintaining the surveillance of Palestinians along its illegal separation barrier, enabling the occupation’s apartheid infrastructure.”

It is anticipated that the activists will all plead Not Guilty. A full trial is likely to follow in the new year. The hearing will commence at 9.30am.