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US War Crimes in Iraq on Trial in Bristol Crown Court, Monday 14 May 2007

Andrew Wood | 09.05.2007 13:23 | Anti-militarism | Iraq | Oxford

War crimes in Iraq highlighted at retrial of peace activists, Bristol Crown Court Monday 14 May 2007


Philip Pritchard and Toby Olditch, two Oxford peace activists known at the 'B52 Two', will be retried on the morning of Monday 14 May 2007, not before 10 am, at Bristol Crown Court.. They are accused of conspiring to cause criminal damage at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on 18 March 2003 when they tried to safely disable B52 bombers to prevent them from bombing Iraq[1]. The two men say they acted to prevent damage to life and property in Iraq, and war crimes by the aggressors[2].

This is the second trial for the alleged offence; the first in October 2006 ended in a hung jury. If convicted then the two accused could face up to ten years in jail. The trial is expected to last no more than ten days. There are two other similar cases awaiting re-trial, due to a hung jury, at Bristol crown court.

The two activists maintain that war crimes were committed in the bombing as cluster bombs, which spread unexploded bomblets that kill and maim civilians (like mines) were used, as were 'bunker busting' bombs tipped with depleted uranium that fragments spreading toxins, which are harmful to civilians.

Philip Pritchard, one of the accused said:

“It is devastating that our Government took the road to war in Iraq; we took responsible and peaceful action to stop the B52 bombers. The civilian carnage of the bombing, including the consequences of using cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons constitutes a war crime”[3]


Media contact at court and before: 07910 329 211

Editors Notes
A full press briefing is available on request.
Philip Pritchard is 36 years old, and a self employed carpenter and father. Toby Olditch is 38 years old, and a self employed builder. They both live in Oxford. The defendants are represented in court by barrister Edward Rees, Q.C. from Doughty Street Chambers, London. Their solicitor is Mike Schwarz of Bindmans & Partners, London.
[1] The two men were arrested inside the perimeter fences at RAF Fairford on the night of 18 March 2003, just two days before the bombing of Iraq started. They carried with them tools to damage the planes, nuts and bolts to jam the aircrafts engines, pictures of ordinary Iraqi civilians and paint symbolizing blood and oil. They also carried warning signs for attaching to any damaged planes which would help alert aircrew to their action. The two men acted nonviolently in a way which would not result in harm to anyone, including the military personnel at Fairford. They intended to stay with the planes and tell the operators what they'd done.
[2] Civilian Casualties in Iraq since the invasion are estimated at between 68,796 (Iraq Body Count) and 650,000 (Lancet October 2006).
[3] More bombs were dropped in the initial 'shock and awe' attack on Iraq than in the whole of the first gulf war.

Photo Editors Notes
Supporters with a large banner reading 'Just Action Against An Unjust War' will assemble outside the entrance to Bristol Crown Court at 9.45 am on Monday 14 May.

Andrew Wood
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