Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Rest Their Case
Closing Arguments are Friday, January 31; Verdict is Friday, February 7
The Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters trial rested their case on January 23. Closing arguments will be Friday, January 31 at the Town of DeWitt Court, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY at 4:45 pm. The verdict is expected on Friday, February 7.
The defendants had hoped to begin the evening with testimony from international law expert Francis Boyle but he was not allowed to testify. Fifty supporters watched then as the last six more defendants testified about the intentions that brought them to the nonviolent action at Hancock Air Base on October 25, 2012. The defendants all came to Hancock to ask their government for redress of grievance, and to fulfill their duties as citizens upholding International Law, under which wars of aggression and indiscriminate killing are crimes. Reaper drones flown by pilots at Hancock are used commit Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and violations of Human Rights law.
Three defendants had returned from Pakistan just weeks before the action, having spoken with drones survivors. Judy Bello, an activist from Rochester, showed a video of Afghan youth, Raz Mohammed, whose brother-in-law had been killed in a drone attack, speaking about drone attacks in his home town. James Ricks of Ithaca noted that 100% of drone attack victims have been people of color. Defendant Paki Wieland wished to share the depth of compassion she felt for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan after meeting them.
Martha Hennessy, a Catholic Worker from New Hampshire who has traveled to Afghanistan twice, stated “My conscience brought me here." Mark Scibilia-Carver made clear that the Nuremberg Principles authorized his conduct, and was moved to tears as he shared the story of a child killed by drones. Brian Hynes, a Catholic Worker from Brooklyn, NY said “We always target civilians. We don't ever target the Afghan army.”
The Pledge of Nonviolence that all the defendants had spoken together before going to the Base was entered into evidence, as well as the Citizen's Indictment they read to the military personnel. The testimony of both the prosecution and defense witnesses made it clear that the defendants were peaceful, pleasant and not disorderly in any way.
The charges against Paul Frazier, a Catholic Worker from Syracuse, were dismissed because the arresting officer could not identify him in court.
The Hancock 17 are on trial for having symbolically blocked the three gates at Hancock Air National Guard Base on October 25, 2012. They called for an end to drone warfare and read a Citizen's War Crimes Indictment at Hancock, from which MQ9 Reaper drones are piloted over Afghanistan and where MQ9 Reaper pilots, sensor operators and technicians are trained. They were charged with Trespass and Disorderly Conduct (both violations) and were issued Orders of Protection for Col. Earl Evans, requiring them to stay away from his place of work (Hancock Air Base), thereby greatly limiting their freedom of speech.
The defendants are a part of Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which seeks to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ9 Reaper Drone piloted from Hancock Air National Guard Base. See upstatedroneaction.org and follow #Hancock and #Drones on twitter on after 5pm January 31.
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse, NY, (315) 472-5478, (315) 383-5738 (cell)
Judy Bello, Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Rochester, NY, (585) 733-4058
Mary Anne Grady Flores, Catholic Worker, Ithaca, NY, (607) 280-8797
Ed Kinane, Upstate Drone Action/Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Syracuse, NY, (315) 478-4571
Elliott Adams, Past President of Veterans for Peace, Sharon Springs, NY, (518) 441-2697