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Nine found guilty of obstruction over ExCeL arms fair protests

PUBLISHED: 14:32 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:32 16 January 2018

Anti-war activists protest last year's DSEI arms fair. Picture: CAAT

Anti-war activists protest last year's DSEI arms fair. Picture: CAAT

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Nine protesters were convicted in the opening trials in a series of court cases involving demonstrations against a major arms fair at the ExCeL.

More than 100 people were arrested last year after trying to prevent weapons and military equipment arriving in Royal Docks for the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest gun shows.

Shoppers included many repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who uses UK-made weapons in its brutal bombings in Yemen.

Charges against more than half of the activists were dropped, but 46 still face trial in the next two months.

“The UK arms and supports many of the most brutal regimes around the world,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, who helped organise the protests.

“The arms being promoted could be used in atrocities for years to come,” he added.

“These campaigners were prepared to put their bodies on the line to stop it, and to say that enough is enough.”

The first two groups of demonstrators appeared at Stratford Magistrates’ Court last week, with nine of the 10 on trial found guilty of wilful obstruction of a highway.

Those ordered to each pay a £20 victim surcharge, £180 court costs and handed a six-month conditional discharge were: Guillaume Chome, 24, of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium; Matt Fawcett, 42, and Bryone Moore, 33, both of Rockdove Avenue, Manchester; Brigid-Mary Oates, 58, of Clydesdale Drive, Bradford; Margeret Bremner, 63, of Promenade, Edinburgh, and 66-year-old Barbera Cookson of Lawrence Grove in Liverpool.

Genevieve Scherer, 71, of Leppoc Road, Lambeth, and 66-year-old Angela Zelter of Knighton, Powys, received similar sentences with a smaller victim surcharge of £15.

Thomas Harford, 27, of Whiteway Road, Bristol, must pay a £100 fine, £30 victim surcharge and £180 costs.

The tenth defendent, Martin Prady, 41, of Martock, Somerset, was found not guilty.

“The demonstrators were exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly by means of a ‘sustained, ethical, pacified protest’ to highlight the far-reaching and devastating impact of the arms trade,” said defending lawyer Raj Chada.

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