U.S. military veterans convicted of interfering with Shannon Airport operations

Two U.S. military veterans in their 80s were convicted of interfering with Shannon Airport’s operations as part of an anti-war protest three years ago.

A Dublin Circuit court jury invaded Ken Mayers (85) and Tarak Kauf (80) for criminal damage to the airport’s border fence and for committing crimes and sabotaging property. I admitted.

The ruling was issued Tuesday afternoon after more than five and a half hours of deliberation.

The jury returned a majority verdict guilty of disrupting the operation, safety or control of the airport by entering the runway area and closing the airport. The court heard that the majority vote was 10 to 2.

After the sentence was given, lawyers sought to allow the man to return to the United States and be sentenced in two weeks. This was opposed by the prosecution.

Judge Patricia Ryan said the man was found guilty of serious crime.

“They lost their presumption of innocence,” she said.

She ordered them to return their passports and she set a decision date on Wednesday.

Anti-war activist

In a five-day trial, around 10 am on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, two men pierced the airport border fence with a pair of bolt cutters before walking to the airport land, worth € 590. I heard that it caused damage.

They were met on the taxiway by airport staff after the staff were warned of a security breach. When asked what they were doing, they said they were peace protesters there to inspect US military aircraft. They had a folded banner.

The airport was closed for about 40 minutes, and according to the trial, two planes were delayed in departure and forced to stay in the air until one freighter was completely cleared.

Courts heard that both men served the US military before becoming anti-war activists in the 1960s. They are members of a US-based group called Veterans for Peace.

From the beginning, they both allowed them to pierce the fence and enter the land of the airport.

Providing evidence to the jury trials, they said they did so to protest the US military use of Shannon as a stopover on the way to places like the Middle East.

“The Greatest and Most Polite Protesters”

On March 17, 2019, Mayers of Monte Arte Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Kauf of Arnold Drive, Woodstock, NY, pleaded not guilty to intrusion, criminal damage, and disruption to Shannon Airport’s operations, safety, and control. bottom. ..

The atmosphere of the trial was sometimes well-matched, with airport officials and Garda saying that everyone dealing with men was polite and polite. Airport and Fire Department Richard Moloney said he was the “most wonderful and most polite” protester he had met at Shannon Airport for 19 years.

Next, Mayers and Kauf praised the officials they treated for their respect and professionalism, saying they had never been better treated in years of protest. ..

The two pensioners spent 13 days in Limerick Prison in 2019 after being denied bail by the district court in Garda, fearing to escape the jurisdiction. This was overturned by the High Court, but they stayed in Ireland for another nine months until their passports were returned. They returned from the United States and were tried in Dublin.

Central to the defense cases related to criminal accusations was the allegation that defendants had an honest belief that their actions to cut fences to protect others were justified.

The jury was told that this belief does not have to be justified, but that it must be kept honest. At her direction, Judge Patricia Ryan said the jury was being asked to enter into the hearts of the two defendants.

In his closing speech, Tony McGillikadi BL, who was charged, admitted that the jury may have sympathized with the two defendants.

“They are sincere and respectable people,” he said. “It can’t be contested, it won’t be contested.”

However, McGillicuddy said the jury must set aside sympathy and respect the law of the case.

The indictment was that the man had no legitimate excuse to damage the boundary fence. He said there was no evidence that the plane had ammunition. He said there was no evidence associated with the need to protect people.

“They were there for educational purposes and for the education of law enforcement personnel,” McGillicuddy said. He said they “issued a political statement, focused on the issue and emphasized it.”

“It may be very understandable, but it’s not a legitimate excuse under the Criminal Damage Act,” he said.

In connection with the charges of disrupting the operation, safety and control of the airport, McGillikadi submitted that the airport was closed due to a man in the taxiway at Shannon Airport.

On suspicion of trespassing for damage and property disruption, prosecutors allegedly allowed men to enter the airport premises and told authorities they were there to inspect the plane.

“Political attitude”

Myers defender Michael Hooligan BL told the jury that he was not involved in any “political attitude” but honestly believed that the actions he took that day could save his life. ..

Myers had “the ethical and moral obligations he felt, based on everything he experienced and everything he knew,” Hourigan said.

In connection with the prosecution’s allegations that the plane had no weapons that day, Huorigan said airport officials had not inspected the plane and there was no practice of inspecting U.S. military aircraft at Shannon Airport.

“We don’t have to determine if the plane had weapons or if there was a violation of Ireland’s neutral nation,” Hourigan said.

“When they tell you, it’s whether these honest and respectable men are honest and respectable:” This is what I believe and this is what I did. “

He told the jury that when they reached the age of 83, they might “do something different than standing in the mud of Claire’s moist fields.”

“But that’s what he (Myers) felt he had to do to protect human life.”

Hooligan said there is much more constitutional democracy than the wording of the law.

“The jury is a lamp that shows that freedom is alive,” he said, citing an old legal saying.

“Be a ramp and show that freedom is alive. The only way to do that is to acquittal.”

“Hope is powerful”

Kauf’s defender Carol Dougherty told the jury in his closing speech that “the best thing about Irish law” is that it incorporates a mechanism to prevent people from being convicted of criminal damage in the right circumstances. I said that it is. If they can show that they honestly believe their actions are legal.

She recalled her client’s evidence to the jury that he believed that Shannon’s plane was a “US war machine” on his way to war-torn Yemen.

Ms. Dougherty said she closed the airfield to make sure no one was at the airfield, not because the client was walking along the taxiway, in connection with allegations of disrupting the operation of the airport.

Ms. Doherty said Kauf had a phone, purse and folded banner when he met airport officials in connection with allegations that a man had trespassed with the intention of causing criminal damage or sabotaging property. Stated. There is nothing.

Ms. Dougherty said Kauf devoted his life to peaceful protests.

“People who oppose great people can make a difference,” she said.

“It’s reasonable to think that Kauf and Mayers might have made a difference. Hope is strong. The fact that hope didn’t come true on this occasion did not justify this action. It doesn’t mean that. “ U.S. military veterans convicted of interfering with Shannon Airport operations

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