Mention in Court

Justice for the #PineGapPilgrims

Justice for the #PineGapPilgrims

May 18th, 2017

The six “peace pilgrims” who last September were arrested on the Pine Gap US military intelligence base have a court appearance in Alice Springs today, where they will be pleading not guilty to trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.

Jim Dowling, Andy Paine, Tim Webb and Franz Dowling of Brisbane; along with Margaret Pestorius and Paul Christie of Cairns; each face the charges with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. They walked onto the secretive US intelligence base carrying musical instruments and pictures of war casualties to “lament and pray for peace”.

The pilgrims say the charges should be dropped. Paul Christie said “charges shouldn’t be brought where people are not doing harm; where in fact people are trying to bring peace, do good and allay harm.”

Mr Christie said “the real danger comes from an overseas war-making facility on Australian soil that can drop bombs, with virtually no accountability, on people on the other side of the world. A military base that is an integral part of nuclear apparatus that puts the safety of us all in the volatile hands of Donald Trump.”

The Defence (Special Undertakings) Act is quite untested, with the only previous people charged under the act in 2007 later having their charges overturned. The Act has already been the cause of controversy, with Judge Daynor Trigg initially throwing out the charges in court and calling the law “a bit of nonsense”.

 

The trial is expected to happen late in the year.

For further information contact Pauli Christie on 0405 761 060

Margaret Pestorius 0403214422

 

 

See also this site – #closepinegap Convergence.

 

Media Release February 3 2017

Mention in Court

The six “peace pilgrims” who last September were arrested on the Pine Gap US military intelligence base have now received court summons – each facing up to seven years imprisonment.

Jim Dowling, Andy Paine, Tim Webb and Franz Dowling of Brisbane; along with Margaret Pestorius and Paul Christie of Cairns; are each charged with Trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.

The Act was the subject of confusion and controversy in September when the six defendants were arrested. As well as carrying the extremely severe maximum penalty of seven years prison, the law also requires the expressed consent of the federal attorney-general to be used – causing the charges to be dropped and judge Daynor Trigg to describe the legislation as “a bit of nonsense.”

The peace pilgrims say they intend to put the Pine Gap base on trial. Defendant Andy Paine said “Pine Gap is a foreign military installation on Australian soil that is vital to the US surveillance state and is used to target drone strikes that kill civilians in foreign countries. Its actions should be a topic of debate among all Australians. Instead the base operates in virtual secrecy; hidden in the desert with no government accountability and extreme laws threatening anyone who dares to show what goes on there.”

Mr Paine said “with the unpredictability of a Donald Trump presidency hanging in the air and the US-Australia relationship already strained this week, we need to consider the consequences of our government’s unswerving loyalty to the US in military affairs. To do this and to bring what is done in secret out into the open is why we walked onto Pine Gap in the first place; this trial presents an opportunity for us to publicly do that again.”

The “peace pilgrims” walked on to Pine Gap on September 28 last year; carrying musical instruments and conducting a lament for the deaths and suffering caused by Pine Gap. One of the six Jim Dowling had previously entered Pine Gap in 2005 in a sensational case that ended with convictions overturned on appeal. This is the only previous instance of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act being used.

The first court appearance will be in Alice Springs on May 18 2017

Media contact: Andy Paine 0413205154

Further information on the background of the trial.

See also this site – #closepinegap Convergence.

See also Cate Adams at Wage Peace

Margaret Pestorius 0403214422