A British priest and a Dutch Catholic Worker were released from prison May 25, nearly seven months after they were charged with two counts of criminal damage for disarming a nuclear weapons convoy truck at RAF Wittering, England. Following a four-day trial in Chelmsford Crown Court and long deliberations, a 10-2 majority of the jury found Fr. Martin Newell and Susan van der Hijden guilty as charged.
Both defendants were able to testify about their religious service work with the poor, and how they came to profound awareness of the threat of nuclear weapons. They placed their resistance to Trident squarely in the context of confronting the global economic injustice that spawned the Jubilee 2000 movement for debt relief for impoverished countries and their exploited economies.
Justice Darroch sentenced the Jubilee Ploughshares 2000 pair to twelve months in prison, then ordered their release on parole, as they had already served more than half the sentence on remand. A few hours later, the two joined supporters at a local pub to celebrate their freedom. It was noted that the Church of Scotland, meeting during the trial, had reaffirmed its opposition to Trident and gave specific encouragement to civil resistance against it.
For more information, contact the Jubilee Ploughshares, c/o 38 Twinflower, Walnut Tree, Milton Keynes, MK7 7LH England.