The judge in the trial of seven activists acquitted of damaging an arms factory suggested that their leader should be awarded the George Cross for his campaign.Hmm, see anyone we know? Nope. Try another paragraph:
The seven were cleared after they successfully claimed they had acted to prevent Israeli "war crimes" when the broke into the Brighton factory on January 17, 2009.
Hailed a great victory by pro-Palestinian activists, the seven from "Smash EDO" were acquitted of causing £180,000 worth of damage to the EDO MBM factory in Brighton - which denied ever having supplied Israel with arms equipment.
In his summing-up speech, in which he attacked both Israel and the United States, Judge George Bathurst-Norman told the Hove Crown Court jury: "You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time."
He also said of group leader Christopher Osmond that "The jury may feel his efforts investigating the company merit the George Cross."
Mr Osmond, 30, Elijah Smith, 43, Robert Nicholls, 52, Tom Woodhead, 25, Harvey Tadman, 44, Ornella Saibene, 50, Simon Levin, 35, from Bristol, Brighton and London were all acquitted last week. The verdict was welcomed by Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion.
Tony Greenstein, a veteran pro-Palestinian Jewish campaigner in the city, said: "The judge gave a summing up so favourable that some supporters were worried that the jury might react to what they perceived as an attempt to bounce them into a not guilty verdict. We need not have worried."Aha, now we're into familiar territory. Brighton is Tony's turf and he knows how to savour a victory.But there is something disturbing in the report:
Jewish lawyers and jurists said it was unorthodox for judges to air their political allegiances in court.I'm not sure why Jewish lawyers need special representation as Jews but why on earth are they giving the impression that they support the prosecution in any case at all let alone a case of people who were trying to prevent war crimes being committed?
London solicitor Jonathan Lux, Board Member of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said: "This case appears to have disturbing implications and thought will need to be given to what the wider consequences are."
Barrister Oliver Mishcon said: "Judges must be careful about showing support for political causes."
Still, at least there was some light relief in the last paragraph:
The defence argued that criminal damage is excusable if the damage occurs while trying to prevent greater damage to other properties - in this case, homes in Gaza. But Stephen Shay, prosecuting, argued that the factory was so small that even if it had been supplying Israel, it would have made no difference to the war in Gaza.Got that? The prosecution admitted that Israel's war crimes were worse than the offence it was prosecuting but that Israel would have committed war crimes with or without the factory's goods.