A jury at Hove Crown Court last week acquitted seven activists who last year broke into an arms manufacturer and damaged equipment.
The judge earlier threw out the case of an eighth activist.
The Smash EDO activists broke into the premises of EDO MBM in Brighton, a subsidiary of the huge US corporation ITT, in the early hours of 17 January 2009.
This was the 22nd day of Operation Cast Lead—the Israeli Defence Forces’ assault on Gaza.
The defendants caused £180,000 worth of damage to equipment and put the factory out of action for several weeks.
They were acquitted of conspiracy to cause criminal damage.
The activists said they were “decommissioning” the factory to prevent war crimes and protect the people of Gaza.
They were inspired by the Raytheon Nine, who had carried out a similar action in Derry in August 2006, at the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
The Raytheon Nine admitted breaking into the Raytheon site in Derry and damaging equipment—and argued that they were justified in doing so to stop Israeli war crimes.
They were acquitted in 2008.
Last week’s verdict is another enormous victory for all those fighting against imperialist wars and the arms companies that profit from them.
There has been a campaign in Brighton against EDO MBM since 2004. The company manufactures specialised parts for missile systems.
According to its website, this includes an integral part of the bomb-release mechanism used by F16 jets—the attack aircraft of choice of the Israeli Air Force.
The activists explained that by manufacturing this component, the company was itself committing the offence of aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes by the Israelis.
They argued that because the international community had completely failed to take any action to rein in the Israelis, even in the face of direct attacks on United Nations premises in Gaza, ordinary people had to take the law into their own hands.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, gave evidence at the trial.
She spoke about her failed attempts to get information out of EDO MBM management about what they were producing and about her own experience of witnessing the devastation wrought on Gaza by Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead”.
Once again a jury has delivered a verdict in which justice has triumphed. The courage of those prepared to risk imprisonment for their beliefs has been vindicated.