The prosecution’s case was over by 11am this morning, concluding with Bryan’s interview with police. Bryan stated “we believe that Pine Gap as a facility carries out terrorist bombing attacks against civilians particularly in Iraq, but around the world”, therefore “for me it’s not about trespass, it’s a moral issue”.
Bryan recounted our trip in the vege van on the way to Alice Springs as along “bloody awful long hot road”, gaining smiles of recognition from many of the locals. “We prayed for a miracle” he responded when asked how he thought they’d get in.
Bryan relayed that officers said to them “Move away from the fence and get down on your face now”. He stated “ I did for a moment figure that one of those officers might have pulled out his gun and shot me…I felt like …. I do not wish to participate in being shot at so I dropped my bolt cutters and sat down and said ‘Well look yeah okay, arrest me’. But I was made to lie face down on the ground in the dirt while officers put their knees in the small of my back, put my arms behind me, handcuffed me, rolled me over….”
When asked whether he thought it was the right thing to do, he responded “If I didn’t’ believe it was the right thing by Jesus, and in favour of God, I wouldn’t do it”. “what’s moral is not always legal, and what is immoral is not always illegal. First and foremost I must do what I believe to be morally correct and if there is a minor law that has to be broken in the pursuit of moral faith then I will break it.”
After the close of the prosecution case, we had the debate we had to have – the one about Parliamentary Privilege. This was held without the jury. This is because the lawyer appearing for the Commonwealth has asserted that any discussion of parliament, including parliamentary committees (such as the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties), is not allowed to be discussed in court, particularly before the jury.
An SBS Dateline transcript is significant to the defence in this trial, as it discusses in some detail deficiencies of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in regard to Pine Gap, and the Commonwealth lawyer seeks to have this struck out of relevant evidence.
Mr Begby, for the Commonwealth had a six page submission about the Parliamentary Privilege issue, in which he referred to the 1688 English Bill of Rights and some relevant case law.
Conversely, Donna in her submission stated that she felt the need to quote the great Australian movie, the Castle “I think it’s the vibe. I don’t think the purpose of this Act is supposed to restrict the flow of information to assist the defendants in a courtroom”
However the defence were not successful in their argument this time, and the Judge ruled in favour of the Commonwealth, ruling out any reference to Parliament and their committees.
The defence case then opened after lunch.
Bryan provided an opening statement, which is provided in a separate entry.
In his evidence which followed, Bryan detailed events since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, when the landscape of peace, security and war changed significantly. He noted that he went to University with the aim to promote peace. He noted how he was involved in the forming of a peace group in Cairns in January 2002 to attempt to limit the spread of war, and for a year they engaged in research into the situation in Iraq, including its military resources. It’s impossible to do that kind of research without coming to a profound respect of its people. It appeared to be filled with people of goodwill. They held information stalls to counter the disinformation campaigns that were running. He stated that for the 14 months up to the start of the Iraq war the group worked intensively on the issue – they: wrote letters, not only to the editor of the local newspaper, but to the politicians responsible, including the Prime Minister; spoke to the local member; conducted rallies; published articles; communicated with the armed forces and the public.
Then, he said, the war went on and continues to go on, with bombs killing citizens every day. “I’ve been taught… that when this kind of atrocity is happening, it’s my responsibility to try and stop it”. He stated that there are two ways we, as Australian citizens, support the war. The first is in the oil industry, and he is involved in attempting to inspect war ships in Port.
Bryan began to introduce the concept of non-violence, by referring to Ghandi’s ‘illegal’ acts in India. In response to an objection from the Crown, the Judge stated - “You’ve made the point that non violent actions can be very persuasive….you don’t need to say any more than that”.
Bryan indicated that when Jim suggested facing Pine Gap as a focus, he undertook significant research. He indicated that Pine Gap collects signal intelligence including tracking of mobile phones, and other land to air intelligence, and is used to establish links to military forces in Iraq. The prosecution sought for Bryan to provide further documentary evidence that led to this belief. As a consequence, Bryan attempted to tender evidence of a 1991 media statement from the then Defence Minister about Nurrangar’s role in the first Gulf War, and a book by Des Ball in 1980 which related to the functions of Nurrangar, both which were objected to on relevance. He then indicated he published his perspective on Margaret Kingston’s webdiary, which was successfully tendered to the jury (after previously negotiating this with the Judge and Crown without the jury present), though Mr Denbo still felt the need to outline to the jury that this must be considered as a matter of opinion, rather than fact.
Tomorrow will continue with the conclusion of Bryan’s evidence and will then move on to Jim’s opening statements and evidence, and if time Adele then Donna. Given we will finish court at 1pm, we are likely to not get to our strong women this week.