Who are we?

Hi Friends. Welcome to the blog of the Pine Gap trial, held in Alice Springs. For a background of the case and our group, and other stories please see www.pinegap6.org. At the bottom of the page is a photo of the four accused (from left) Jim Dowling; Donna Mulhearn; Bryan Law and Adele Goldie arriving at court on the first day of the trial, Tuesday 29th of June 2007.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Court Day 10 - Big Day - and not such a good day - by Jess

Adele’s evidence
Adele presented her evidence this morning. She began by introducing herself as a paid worker and volunteer, as someone who doesn’t rely on Government support for her income. She powerfully told her story, with tears throughout, testifying to the depth of her convictions and grief about Iraq.

She stated that before entering Pine Gap she was involved in many vigils, information stalls, organising public meetings, petitions, submission, writing of letters. “I tried many legal means to try to stop horrendous crimes that were being perpetrated against my fellow citizens.”

I knew that the majority of lawyers had said that the war was illegal, that Kofi Annan stated that the war was illegal, and that al these people with all their power couldn’t stop the war.

She shared the story of the Seeds of Hope Ploughshares, who took a hammer to a B52 on it’s way to assist the Government of Indonesia to bomb the people of East Timor, and who were acquitted. Adele said “I thought this was a very practical means, and a very actual means, of stopping these governments that were out of control”.

I heard of the Nuremberg principles, and that it was my duty as a citizen of the world, that if I knew something was going on I had to act to stop it. She attempted to tender the Nuremberg charter during her evidence as relevant to her defence, but was not allowed to do this.

My point is that my belief is that as a citizen, it is my duty, if my Government is committing War crimes and crimes against humanity, then I must act to stop it. She read from an ABC radio transcript about the actual and hideous operations of Pine Gap.

Adele went on to detail information that formed her belief about the activities in Iraq – from Dr Salam Ismael, independent journalists, Australian media and the like. When the prosecution queried these relevance. “I want to prove that in 2005, my small incursion into Pine Gap, was attempting to intervene into what was happening in Iraq. “I want to share this with these fellow human beings” When the prosecution objected to the submission of documents about current atrocities in Iraq, she said “if this isn’t relevant to us as people, then I don’t know what is”.

She submitted [turned down by the Judge] the Lancet report “the study confirms that violent civilian deaths were widespread, and were mainly associated with coalition forces”, which at that time was conservatively estimated to be 100,000 people. Of course since this time, the report has been updated, and they now estimate over 600,000 civilians have died in the Iraq war.

Adele also raised the members of veterans movement who have stood up against the war. She said that she had heard from individual conscientious objectors who had been imprisoned for standing against the war. She said that they too had contributed to the forming of her belief.

Donna’s evidence

Donna detailed how she learned about the role that Pine Gap plays in wars of a foreign country. She quoted Michael McKinley, Phillip Dawling, Des Ball and Richard Tanter, all experts about Pine Gap. She attempted to tender Peter Garrett’s 1987 book “Political Blues” which includes a chapter on Iraq, but it was refused, as with the Lancet report and others, as unnecessary for the jury to read.

Donna stated that “no one on public record has disagreed with what we are saying about what happens at Pine Gap. The head of the base, in this (witness) box, when we presented that Iraq is involved in war fighting, stated no comment. He didn’t disagree”.

Donna gave evidence of her experience of going into Pine Gap. For those who have heard Donna share this story at a churches or public meetings, it will be very familiar. When Donna got to the end of her story, she gave evidence about the hundreds of cars parked outside the front of the gate and stated “we had achieved our goal of disrupting that base and shutting it down for a period of time”.

Donna then shared about her experience in Iraq, focusing on missile strikes, which are linked with Pine Gap - “when a precision bomb lands anywhere within 5 kms of you, it feels like your own personal earthquake.” And she went on. The Prosecution rose and stated that “all know that a bomb is a horrific thing”, and that we don’t need to hear any more. Donna reported, and showed photos, of the effects of precision bombing, people being bombed in restaurants, in the cars, and in their homes. Donna was asked by the prosecution to prove where the bombs were coming from, which she didn’t think that this was needed as only one country was bombing Iraq at the time. “The missile that had landed on the market place, the US reported later in the day that this was a mistake…the coordinates for that missile was given from Pine Gap.”

Donna’s defence is that of defence of others, and she detailed the boys in the children’s shelter that she established and worked with, as specific people she feels an obligation to protect. She stated “the people I’m trying to protect, the ones in defence of others, they have names and faces and stories.” The prosecution, in objecting to photos being tendered “the jury can’t have emotions when they reach their verdict”.

Through a strained voice and tears, Donna said “When I was preparing for the action in Pine Gap, there were no abstract concepts about people far away. They were about people that I know.”

Donna, in detailing why she believes her actions were reasonable stated “considering the experience I had in Iraq, when I prepare to do the incursion in Pine Gap, I thought it was the least I could do….given the magnitude of the crime I was trying to prevent, I believe my actions were reasonable and proportionate.”

“Needless to say, I did much more than write letters. I did the things that many people did. Then I took another step of becoming a human shield in Iraq…I spoke at public meetings and did hundreds of media interviews when I returned…But when I came home the war went on and the role of Pine Gap continued.

“one of the greatest influences on the choice I made was my faith... I believe in loving each other and treating each other with respect. As a Christian, my teacher Jesus goes further and says ‘Love your Enemies’…The other main influence is non-violent action which flows from this teaching.” She noted the many successes of non-violent action – end of slavery; women’s rights; civil rights in America; and freedom of colonial rule in India “When you’ve got something in history that works, I feel we need to explore this further.”

“The greatest influence on me… is my experience in Iraq and how this has effected me…All of those scenes that were here, you come to a point where you feel like you have an obligation… I have felt a compulsion to act, a responsibility. Everything I had done before didn’t disrupt the war process, but going into Pine Gap did…I was trying to fulfil the promise I had made to the people of Iraq to do something to stop the war.

Defending the Defences
Mr Dembo then restated his wish for a ruling that the defences mentioned by the defendants should be disallowed by the Judge. He stated that the Nuremberg principles are “not defences known to law”.

This argument has been well made previously by the Commonwealth lawyer, and Mr Dembo adopted this submission in it’s entirety. This submission referred to important earlier protest cases that have been before the case. One was of Limbo, who had previously protested at Pine Gap, and the two who painted ‘No War’ on the Opera House.

Then we responded. One of the key points that the Commonwealth have made is that the action was an attempt to influence Government policy, which can never be accepted as a defence under the criminal code. In his response, Bryan indicated that “It cannot be legitimate Government policy to commit War Crimes…nor can it be legitimate government policy to provide intelligence to other parties so as to enable them to commit war-crimes.” Bryan had a 10 page submission which rivalled any of the prosecution documentation, making arguments through a significant body of case law. Adele noted that at the time of their action, Australia was engaged in War Crimes, Crimes Against Peace and Crimes against Humanity and therefore under the Nuremberg Charter she was obliged to act. She also cited the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a valid instrument for her to act under. Donna indicated that many prominent International experts had condemned the Iraq war as illegal, and for the lay person who doesn’t understand the nexus between domestic and international law, it must be accepted that for a reasonable person the condemnation of the law as illegal, as an authority to listen to. She noted that since these defences are relatively untested in Australian law, and that the charges are unprecedented, that the Judge should err on the side of the defence, and allow the defence to go to the jury.

During the discussion, Judge Sally Thomas stated that “history has shown that non-violent action has been very effective”

However alas, the Judge ruled against us. She made a ruling stating that “no jury properly instructed should be asked to consider public policy. The defences under 10.3/10.4/10.5 under the criminal code (necessity, self-defence/defence of others) or the defence raised by Ms Goldie under International law should not be put in relation to any of the four defendants”.

Cross Examination
While we were all still shattered from this result, the prosecution commenced it’s cross examination. They asked the four to repeat the same confessions from the group of their actions, now so painfully placing them in such a vulnerable position in regard to a verdict and sentencing.

Mr Dembo, who had been so polite in prior proceedings, made nasty and undermining comments to the defendants in this case, leading me to wonder whether his respectful and jovial manner towards the defendants was merely an act for the jury and Judge.

In cross examination, Jim prouced an A1 Google Earth map of Pine Gap which showed significantly more detail about the Pine Gap facility than on the mud map that the prosecution had used in their evidence.

Adele stated that “If we wait to read these things in the history book, it will keep going on”

Donna, when asked by the Prosecution did she agree that we live in a Parliamentary Democracy, she stated that “Having studied politics, I would say that what we have is more like a fascist regime”. She went on to say that as the Executive (Cabinet) makes decisions, such as the one to go to Iraq, without the consejavascript:void(0)
Publish Postnt of the Parliament, then we cannot call this a Parliamentary democracy.

When discussing witnesses that the Defence was likely to call, the Crown indicated that they would object to all on the basis of relevancy.

So tomorrow may be the last day!

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