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The Agrexco Seven - Day one

Falestine Hurriyah | 24.01.2006 07:51 | Social Struggles | London

Monday saw the commencement of the Agrexco Seven trial at Uxbridge Magistrates Court. The seven are on trial for aggravated tresspass following a blockade of the Israeli national fresh produce exporters HQ in Hayes on November 11th, 2004, when all vehicular access tot he site was blocked with cages constructed by the defendants, for over 8 hours.

Don't buy dem fruits
Don't buy dem fruits

Monday was taken up with the testimony of 2 prosecution witnesses from the warehouse, First up was Barry Stuart, warehouse manager, who gave an account of how he was called to the factory in the early hours of the morning to find the cages constructed in such a way as to block both the entrance and exit of the site.

He was followed by Agrexco warehouse manager, Amos Orr an Israeli national who gave an account of the events of the day, before being subjected to 2.5 hours of cross examination, where he was questionned about conditions in the occupied territories, where Agrexco deals with setllement produce. Mr. Orr, who was a serrving soldier during the so-called 1967 war,
initially claimed that he does not read newspapers, and doesn't know about politics, but over the course of the afternoon his knowledge and levels of awareness of the issues improved dramatically. When asked if settlements used Palestinian land to expand he have one of his typically vague answers - "They could have developed land that was undeveloped before". He was keen to minimise the level of settlement produce that his company dealt with claiming that settlement produce was only a tiny proportion of Agrexco's total produce. He then played up the produce that Agrexco gets from other countroes - including South American and European nationsm which by co-incidence appeared to be 5% of turnover, the same as he had estimated for settlement produce.

He claimed that 60 - 70% of settlement produce is marketed through Agrexco, and as time went by admitted that he had heard of innocent children being killed by occupation forces and that he was aware that the so called separation barrier/Apartheid wall was not on the green line - though he insisted that he had no knowledge of its route. He also admitted awareness that apartments in settlements were cheaper than homes inside Israel, but wasn't aware if settlement homes received state subsidies or not..........

Mr. Orr claimed that he was unable to discuss his time in the army as he had signed an official secrets declaration.

His credibility as a witness took something of a dive when he denied that he had ever seen a document that he was shown. A defence brief then read a statement from a policewoman stating that Amos Orr had given her the document. Mr. Orr went on to claim that he had never checked the export license for his company.

On Tuesday the prosecution will present a number of arresting coppers as witnesses and the trial which is scheduled for 7 days will then move onto the defence case, where the defendants are arguing that trade with settlements is not lawful activity. Witnesses will include Uri Davis, author of Israel: The Apartheid State, and Professor Joffe, an expert witness, followed by Palestinian witnesses who will terstify as to the effects that settlements have had on their communities.

On Wednesday evening Uri Davis, Sue Blackwell and Ghada Kharmi will adress a meeting at ULU in Malet Street on the need for a Boycott of Israeli goods. The meeting will take place at 7.30 pm.

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