Trial of Christians collapses after judge linked to US President - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 8, 2005

Trial of Christians collapses after judge linked to US President

-08/11/05

The trial of Christian peace activists who disarmed a US Military aircraft during the invasion of Iraq, has collapsed after it was shown that the judge had connections to US President George W Bush.

The disarmament action took place in February 2003 on a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, Ireland

The five members of the Catholic Worker movement disarmed the aircraft whilst it was re-fuelling. The 'Pitstop Ploughshares' as they have come to be known, were subsequently arrested and now face imprisonment.

However they have received the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and US actor Martin Sheen amongst others who proclaimed that "the prevention of war should not be a crime".

On the ninth day of their trial however - it came to light that the judge had close connections with George W Bush.

Defence senior counsel Mr. Rod OíHanlon, for two of the accused - Ciaron OíReilly and Damien Moran - told Judge McDonagh that it had come to the attention of the defence that he had attended the Bush inauguration in 2001 and been invited back in 2004. If this was the case, he said, there may be an application that he disqualify himself from the trial.

It turned out that whilst a barrister, at a photo call in Houston, Texas, in the mid Nineteen Nineties the judge had been photographed posing beside the then-governor of Texas, George W. Bush. The judge had subsequently been invited to and attended the Bush inauguration in 2001. He was also invited to the 2004 re-inauguration by Mr. Tom DeLay, but had been unable to attend due to a schedule conflict.

When these suggestions were put to him in court, Judge McDonagh confirmed them, saying, ìYou are absolutely correctî.

The defence then proceeded to make application that the Judge discharge the jury, due to the potential for a public perception of bias on his behalf against the accused. This was on the basis that Mr. Bush, with whom the Judge would appear to be on friendly personal terms, was implicated at least indirectly in this case.

It was pointed out that if this were the position of a juror serving on the panel, that person would in all likelihood be excluded ëfor cause showní if such information came to light at the time of jury selection.

Judge McDonagh reportedly took a short recess to consider his position, before returning and abruptly calling down the jury to dismiss them, thus collapsing the trial.

Ireland is said to be a neutral country and is not a member of NATO, nor was its inclusion in the 'Coalition of the Willing' that invaded Iraq admitted either by US or Irish government officials. However, its facilities have played a considerable and growing role in the US war and occupation.

Last year, 158,549 US troops passed through the airport on 1,502 flights . Those troop numbers were 26 per cent higher than in 2003. In addition, Irish officials granted permission for 753 military aircraft to land, and 816 aircraft carrying munitions.

Trial of Christians collapses after judge linked to US President

-08/11/05

The trial of Christian peace activists who disarmed a US Military aircraft during the invasion of Iraq, has collapsed after it was shown that the judge had connections to US President George W Bush.

The disarmament action took place in February 2003 on a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, Ireland

The five members of the Catholic Worker movement disarmed the aircraft whilst it was re-fuelling. The 'Pitstop Ploughshares' as they have come to be known, were subsequently arrested and now face imprisonment.

However they have received the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and US actor Martin Sheen amongst others who proclaimed that "the prevention of war should not be a crime".

On the ninth day of their trial however - it came to light that the judge had close connections with George W Bush.

Defence senior counsel Mr. Rod O'Hanlon, for two of the accused - Ciaron O'Reilly and Damien Moran - told Judge McDonagh that it had come to the attention of the defence that he had attended the Bush inauguration in 2001 and been invited back in 2004. If this was the case, he said, there may be an application that he disqualify himself from the trial.

It turned out that whilst a barrister, at a photo call in Houston, Texas, in the mid Nineteen Nineties the judge had been photographed posing beside the then-governor of Texas, George W. Bush. The judge had subsequently been invited to and attended the Bush inauguration in 2001. He was also invited to the 2004 re-inauguration by Mr. Tom DeLay, but had been unable to attend due to a schedule conflict.

When these suggestions were put to him in court, Judge McDonagh confirmed them, saying, 'You are absolutely correct'.

The defence then proceeded to make application that the Judge discharge the jury, due to the potential for a public perception of bias on his behalf against the accused. This was on the basis that Mr. Bush, with whom the Judge would appear to be on friendly personal terms, was implicated at least indirectly in this case.

It was pointed out that if this were the position of a juror serving on the panel, that person would in all likelihood be excluded ëfor cause shown' if such information came to light at the time of jury selection.

Judge McDonagh reportedly took a short recess to consider his position, before returning and abruptly calling down the jury to dismiss them, thus collapsing the trial.

Ireland is said to be a neutral country and is not a member of NATO, nor was its inclusion in the 'Coalition of the Willing' that invaded Iraq admitted either by US or Irish government officials. However, its facilities have played a considerable and growing role in the US war and occupation.

Last year, 158,549 US troops passed through the airport on 1,502 flights . Those troop numbers were 26 per cent higher than in 2003. In addition, Irish officials granted permission for 753 military aircraft to land, and 816 aircraft carrying munitions.

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