Raytheon 6 cleared
There were jubilant scenes in a Belfast court today as six Derry anti-war protesters were unanimously acquitted of destroying property belonging to multinational arms company Raytheon.
As the Crown Court jury of four men and seven women were led from Court 14 at the Laganside complex, the six men and their supporters who had packed the public gallery clapped and cheered in appreciation of the not guilty verdicts.
The six, 65-year-old author and journalist Eamonn McCann, from Westland Avenue, and his co-accused James Anthony Kelly (47), of Rathkeele Way, Eamon O'Donnell (53), of Campion Court, Colm Donal Sarto Bryce (42), of Westland Avenue, Sean Heaton (35), of Circular Road, and 42-year-old Kieran Vincent Gallagher, of the Craft Village, all Derry, were each acquitted of causing criminal damage to the building and offices of Raytheon and an employee's car on August 9, 2006.
However, McCann was convicted by a majority of ten to one of stealing two computer disks belonging to the company but he walked free after Judge Tom Burgess imposed a 12 month conditional discharge.
Speaking outside the court, Colm Bryce declared that their actions had been "completely vindicated" and that the verdicts were "very welcome to ourselves and our families". He said he wanted to dedicate the not guilty verdicts to the bereaved families in Qana in the Lebanon who had been bombed by Israeli Forces using missiles made by Raytheon.
"We feel vindicated in taking the action that we did," declared the anti-war activist.
Mr McCann read from a prepared statement in which he echoed the sentiments that the six "have been vindicated".
"The jury have accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that the Israeli Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. The action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes."
He also called on politicians and the citizens of Derry "to say in unequivocal terms that Raytheon is not welcome in our city".
"We have not denied or apologised for what we did," he added. "Personally speaking, and I believe I speak for all of us, it was the best thing I have ever done in my life," declared Mr McCann.
Over the course of the last four weeks, the jury had heard that, following repeated bombing of Lebanese property in which numerous civilians died, the group of anti-war protestors forced their way into the Raytheon plant in Derry and caused significant damage to its server and computers.
The six all claimed their reason for doing so was to protect the lives and property of people in the Lebanon from being attacked by Israeli Forces who bought their weapons, weaponry systems and missiles from Raytheon.
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Weather for Derry
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: East