On Friday 14th May, the 8 day trial in Preston Crown Court of three Swedish Ploughshares activists ended when the jury, after 7 hours of deliberation, could not reach a verdict. Annika Spalde, Stellan Vinthagen and Ann-Britt Sternfeldt, of the Bread Not Bombs Ploughshares group, had been accused of conspiring to cause criminal damage to the new Trident nuclear weapons submarine, HMS Vengeance, after they entered the Barrow shipyards in September 1998 and began symbolic "disarament" of Trident related equipment.
"We are really impressed that a jury of ordinary citizens from a town so dependent on weapons production refused to find us guilty, in spite of them being told by the judge that that was their only option."
A retrial has been set for October 11, 1999. The judge has said that he will seek the view of the Attorney General on the application of the 1996 ruling by the International Court of Justice to Britains nuclear weapons.
The Bread Not Bombs group work in association with Trident Ploughshares 2000 and TP 2000 pledger Jane Tallents said: "It is an enormous encouragement that at least some members of a jury have appreciated the moral and legal arguments we are bringing to bear, in spite of the judge blocking substantial parts of the defence. This result gives great hope to TP 2000 activists as they continue to argue in court for the validity of direct disarmament."
Preston Crown Court is set to host yet another trial of disarmers when the Aldermaston Trash Trident activists appear on charges of damage to radar testing equipment on board the same submarine on the 1st February.
Websites Bread Not Bombs: www.plowshares.se/bnb TP 2000:www.gn.apc.org/tp2000/
Trident Ploughshares 2000, 42-46 Bethel Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1NR, UK
tel + 44 (0) 1603 611953 fax + 44 (0) 1603 666879