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Pine Gap Trial Begins with Move to Put Defendants Under House Arrest!

CAAT | 27.05.2007 22:30 | Anti-militarism | Iraq | World

Pine Gap is an NSA/CIA Base located near isolated Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. The base is part of the sattelite targetting used for U.S. bombings in Iraq and Adfghanistan. In December of 2005, four Christian resisters made their way into the most secure area in Australia to carry out a Citizen's Inspection

A politically sensitive Supreme Court trial begins this week with an extraordinary move by a Crown prosector to place four peace activists under house arrest.

Crown prosecutor, Mr Dembo, wants to see Donna Mulhearn from Sydney, Jim Dowling from Brisbane , Bryan Law from Cairns and Adele Goldie from Brisbane confined to their place of residence throughout the two-week trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court at Alice Springs .

The four were arrested after breaking into Pine Gap US Spy base to do a ‘Citizens Inspection’ in December 2005. They aimed to highlight Pine Gap’s role in the war in Iraq .

They now face a possible seven years in prison after the Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, consented to charges under the cold-war Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, to be used for the first time.

In a pre-trial hearing at Alice Springs on Monday, Mr Dembo will apply for the bail of the defendants to be changed so that they: “remain in the court 45 minutes after the court adjourns, and then go to their residences by the shortest available route and remain there”. He will also request that they be prohibited from being within two kilometres of Pine Gap.

Mr Dembo said he made the application after receiving ‘intelligence’ about events the defendants had planned during the trial such as a daily procession to court with supporters and a demonstration at Pine Gap.

The four have already been subject to a suppression order made in a secret court in Darwin last year in relation to ASIO’s involvement in the arrest at Pine Gap. The content of the order was successfully challenged by the four, who insisted on their right to divulge details of their arrest during the trial, and was later discharged.

The trial will be closely followed by the legal community who are concerned the Attorney General’s involvement, the use of an archaic act and heavy-handed penalties reflect an increasingly disturbing climate restricting freedom of speech and political expression.

The trial proper, set down for two weeks, will begin on Tuesday May 29th.

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  1. true defence — Johnny Mason