Long blog today, afraid I’m too tired to edit it or even check my poor spelling! Thought it would be good to get it out there. I’ll also post our media release for a shorter version!
The summary is that the jury will go out just after 9am tomorrow to consider their verdict – so we may enjoy the freedom of the night!
Before proceedings began today, Mr Dembo, for the prosecution noted a banner hung over chairs in the court, that he thought would prove a distraction to the jury. The Judge stated that she could only see a strip of yellow, which seemed a non issue. While Mr Dembo stated he could also see a peace sign, the Judge didn’t think it was necessary to remove it. So today we were able to proudly sit around a traditional rainbow colored flag with the words PEACE and the peace sign displayed.
Then Donna made an application to the court -
“After legal advice we’ve all come to an agreement, that we’d like to make a formal application for a permanent stay of the trial…We believe that an objective observer of the trial would not see that Justice would be se to be done, for a number of factors including: the application of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act; the public interest immunity ruling restricting critical evidence being presented; that the ruling on Parliamentary Privilege also restricting evidence; the restriction of expert witnesses that would have strengthened the case; and the lack of defences that are able to be presented to the jury.”
In reply Judge Sally Thomas stated “I note the application and the reasons for it…however the application is refused”.
The jury was then brought in, and the crown began its closing statement.
The crown detailed their argument, representing the defendants as flagrant law breakers - “It’s not for any of us to place ourselves above the law” he argued. “There are ways and means, sometimes they take a long time...for the due process to work”.
He stated “I’ll be asking you to take into account the relevant facts…this is not a parliament, it is not a bible school, and it is not a church, it is a court of law”. It was an insulting comment, it’s clear we all know that we are in the domain of the law, a fact that has been painfully obvious as the many rulings have gone against us, restricting severely the evidence that could be presented.
He implored the jury “You can’t go in there are say we’ll forget about what the Judge has said to you about the law”. Perhaps he would fears that anything other than the law may be significant to the jury. Later he implored them not to consider the result of the charges. He insulted Jim, by suggesting that by wearing a t-shirt with an Iraqi mother and her child, and then weeping as he holds up the photo – that he was being inconsistent.
“You’re not dealing with violent offenders here…but you cannot take into account any sympathies you may have…neither can you take prejudices into account…you can only take into account is the evidence, not emotion…I will suggest that all they have put to you is emotional information”.
“Please remember that these accused persons knew in advance…they thumbed their noses at the law…”
As I was sitting hearing Mr Dembo go on, I was struck by what might a different case look like. If it was Mr Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq that was on trial – and the court of law being presented evidence about whether he was guilty or not guilty of war crimes, much more severe crimes in the scheme of things.
Bryan in his closing stated “I am not going to be part of an adversarial system. I have no enemies in this court. He quoted from Dr King “the choice is no longer between violence and non-violence. The choice is between non-violence and non-resistance.” He cited the experience of his father in fighting in the Second World War, who was so depressed who attempted suicide. He also quoted Jefferson, that citizens must engage in their democracies or that parliamentarian will rule the day.
“I’m proud of what I did. I proud that I took whatever action I took to address the situation.”
“Our act was a simple act. Of four ordinary people. And we can see around us how seriously this action is being taken. Mr Dembo rightly pointed out the futility of writing letters to politicians who will not hear…We have seen a procession of lawyers who are here to protect the interests of the Commonwealth…one of the key interests of the Commonwealth in this instance, is that we should not disclose what happens at Pine Gap. Because I think Australians are thinking people, and if they know what happens at Pine Gap they will also be……(?)
I think the person with the hardest job in this court, is Mr Dembo. I’d like to thank Mr Dembo for all the efforts he has made to put his case.
I just want to say that I’d really like to be acquitted. I don’t look forward to the penalty I might face, I don’t look forward to time in prison.” He recalled that he spent a month in prison for speaking in public during the Beilkie Peterson(sp???)years, and that he was since found justified. “I have a life worth living because I stick to the principles that I hold…if that requires me to serve a prison sentence, then that’s O.K… what’s important to me is that you uphold your conscience.
“We have tried to tell the truth at all times, the truth as we see it, as we believe it” “While we tried to tell the truth, it’s probably obvious to everyone that the prosecution…have tried to cover up an enormous amount of the truth…”. He recounted how it was Bryan’s question to Mr Burgess about whether Pine Gap was involved in the war fighting in Iraq that caused an objection and almost two days of legal argument. He said “the Commonwealth’s hands are dripping with blood of the Iraqi people”.
He also talked about Raytheon and the unclear evidence about the timing of the alarms and the costs to the damage of the fence. “he whole alarm system is a farce, as is the Raytheon corporation who have been convicted of defrauding the government in the US…the evidence is that not only that we disclosed that Pine Gap is involved in providing intelligence that has….killed thousands of people in Iraq.”
“The Pine gap facility has caused millions of dollars of damage in Iraq…we cut through fences not to damage property but to save property….if I cut through a fuse of a bomb left over from the second world war, I wouldn’t be charged with damage to property.”
“I’d like to invite you to join us non supporting mass murder…and finding us not guilty.”
“I agree with Mr Dembo that I’m not above the law. Mr Dembo seems to think that international law is not relevant and should be ignored…without these laws, citizens have no protection against government. Where, like in this case, the Government ……The Nuremberg principles are not to be ignored, civil disobedience have given us many of the freedoms that we enjoy today.” She was interrupted in her statement by the Judge indicating she has already ruled that that defence should not be withheld.
“Despite having no legal training like you, I know what’s right or wrong.” She opened.
She said that her position is “that when peaceful protest doesn’t work, further action is required. History shows this, my faith demands this, and my humanity requires it…Everything that I did that was lawful, didn’t work. And then I went to Pine Gap. For a few hours the coordinates didn’t get relayed, and the missiles didn’t drop.”
“I’m asking you to decide using your conscience.
Donna indicated that she was wearing the boots she was wearing in the market place, the day that a bomb had dropped. She said “now in this court room, there is blood on my boots. Blood of a human being, that is there because of the targeting decision made in Pine Gap. I’m asking you to honour the memory of the person’s blood that is on my boots…for the sake of the truth, for the sake of your humanity. I’m asking you to exercises your right as a human being, to make the decision that you believe is right. I’m asking that you find me not guilty.”
Judge Sally Thomas’s concluding comments:
At 11.55 the case finished at the Judge began her directions. She indicated to the jury that their job is to make decisions regarding fact, based on the evidence they have before them. She indicated that her role is to preside over the trial, and make rulings in regard to points of law. She indicated that quite a period of time has been spent during this trial on legal argument, particularly in regard to which evidence was admissible.
She indicated however that law is non-negotiable. “You might feel you do not agree with the law, I may feel that I don’t agree with the law, but the fact is that this is what is binding on all of us.”
“This is a case that has evoked quite a great deal of emotion…some of you may feel quite strongly that Australia should have no part in the war in Iraq…you may feel that as members of the Australian public we should know more about what is happening in Pine Gap…having feelings of sympathy or empathy or perhaps prejudice is a normal human reaction. However when it comes to deliberations in this matter I have to ask you to put aside your prejudices, sympathy or empathy and use your intellect to examine the facts of the case.”
She mentioned that she has been called upon to make some rulings about what is admissible.
…It is not appropriate to speculate about what you could not hear…the reality of the court process and this trial, there are some matters that I have made rulings that some evidence is not appropriate for this trial”
“You heard a lot of information from the defendants about the defences that they were relying on, and then I ruled that these defences were not open to them.” These included the necessity in ceasing an emergency, self defence/defence of law, and the Nuremberg principles. “they have been ruled out as defences … do not justify breaking the law
“it an unusual case you have been hearing because of the extensive admissions that each of defendants have made in relation to the charges…however the defendants have entered a plea of not guilty to each of the charges…
Then we for the first time got to hear the voice of Mr Dembo’s junior counsel, Ms Cooper. There were then significant submissions made by the prosecution in regard to the Judges’ written statement to the jury (ie. Asking for wording changes, which she won!).
After lunch, Judge Thomas began her legal direction to the jury. She noted “the elements that the crown needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt before you return a guilty verdict” for each of the four for each of the charges (14 in total) and “if you are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the crown has not proved all these elements of the offence then you should return a verdict of not-guilty”.
I’m now going to take you to some of the evidence that you’ve heard in these proceedings, and a summary of the elements of the case as presented at the conclusion:
• Exhibit P1: admissions of defendants, which the crown does not have to prove. The exception here is that Dowling, Goldie & Mulhearn stated that they don’t believe that the Commonwealth owns the land. She noted the evidence that the crown presented towards the assertion that the Commonwealth owns the land. She also indicated law that says the fence belongs to the owner of the property
• Exhibit P2: series of correspondence between Mr Law and Minister.
• Mr Burgess: Deputy Chief of Facility, and Officer in charge of the facility. He began work after the date of the offence,
• Oops tuned out for a while….
• Ruling regarding account for fence repairs: “you do not have to find any findings about what the cost of the damage might have been. You just need to indicate whether there is any damage to the fences at all”.
• Lots of restating of facts re-stated, very hard to stay tuned in…..
“You’ll be aware from the evidence that it was Mr Law and Mr Dowling have used the bolt cutters. The reason Ms Goldie and Ms Mulhearn are charged with this offence also is with the legal principle of “conspiracy for a current purpose”.
She stated that in view of her ruling that the defences that they referred to are not admissible, it is probably not appropriate for the jury to consult these exhibits.