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chris coverdale case adjourned as judge refuses to consider war legality

rikki | 06.10.2006 17:59 | SOCPA | Anti-militarism | Indymedia | Repression | London

anti-war campaigner chris coverdale appeared at marylebone magistrates court this morning intending to argue that british and international law prevents him from paying a court fine arising from a conviction for 'unauthorised protest' and 'use of a megaphone'. the judge became the 21st who has refused to consider and uphold war law that chris has faced over 3 years in a variety of different cases.

this conviction arose from an attempt to report the crimes of genocide and starting a war of aggression. having made 3,000 separate attempts to report these crimes over several years, he found himself at his wit's end with a banner, leaflets and megaphone outside parliament. but the only police attention he received was an arrest for 'unauthorised protest' and 'use of a megaphone'. he was found guilty earlier this year at bow street magistrates, and appealed the case to southwark crown court, where once again, despite listening to his defence citing his responsibility under war law to do everything in his power to stop the greater crime of genocide, the court found against him.

although southwark court gave him a conditional discharge and awarded costs against the prosecution, he has been pursued for the original £250 costs awarded at bow street, and today's appointment was a 'means hearing' to enforce this award. chris appeared before district judge elizabeth roscoe hoping to argue that if he were to pay the court costs he would be committing an offence under british law of conduct ancillary to genocide by providing the means for the government to continue its illegal war against iraq.

he was at pains to point out that this was not a matter of conscience, but actually a factual issue of existing laws, pointing out that the court's actions imposing and pursuing these financial penalties can be construed as offences under principles six and seven of the nuremburg principles, articles 25 and 27 of the rome statute, and sections 50, 51, 52, 55, 66, and 78 of the international criminal court act 2001.

judge roscoe failed to understand the specific point chris was trying to make, suggesting that these matters of war law were brought up in the original trial and dismissed, but obviously they weren't considered in relation to fines and costs because the sentence was only handed down after the legal arguments of the socpa case had been concluded. however, the judge refused outright to hear chris's submission relating to the legality of any imposition of financial penalties, stating that she was only there to enforce the sentence. when asked how chris could get a court to uphold war law, she replied that she couldn't tell him how to proceed other than to get legal advice. however, having studied war law (with a layman's eye) for many years, chris is probably in a better position than most lawyers to press these points. there are simple facts in both domestic and in ratified international law, and these facts need to be raised properly in a court of law, but chris keeps getting side-stepped at every approach.

judge roscoe adjourned the case for four weeks, suggesting that chris returns with evidence that he has begun a judicial review in the high court, otherwise she will proceed with enforcement.

chris is considering his next step in this particular case, but in the meantime, he is also in negotiation with the official receiver, having been made bankrupt after refusing to pay taxes on the same basis of refusing to break existing law by aiding an illegal war. there may be a chance yet that his case will be heard in the high court.

it is important for everyone to realise that by paying tax to a government that has instigated a war of aggression and genocide, they are in british law, committing an offence. he is calling for a national tax strike to bring the message home to the authorities and to test these laws properly in courts up and down the land.

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  1. blinkered and narrow — mike d