Four Christian peace protestors who broke into the Pine Gap defence facility in Australia in 2005 have won a major victory in their struggle against prosecution. The Northern Territory's Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed their convictions.
In 2007, Bryan Law, Adele Goldie, Jim Dowling and Donna Mulhearn were found guilty of breaking into the intelligence base using wire cutters.
They were the first people to be charged under the Defence Special Undertakings Act of 1952, reports ABC News. The four were fined a total of 3,000 Australian dollars in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs, which they refused to pay on conscience grounds.
The Christian peace protestors appealed against their convictions, and the Northern Territory's full Court of Criminal Appeal has now found in their favour.
It remains to be seen whether the Federal Director of Public Prosecutions will decide to pursue a retrial or let the matter drop. The DPP's office had said that it wished to secure an even harsher penalty than the Northern Territory Supreme Court had dished out.
Minor charges against the four for trespass and criminal damage will still stand, but they looked extremely happy about the verdict as they stood outside the Court for media photographs following the quashing of the major conviction.
Ms Mulhearn had described as "an abuse of power [that] Australians should be really concerned about" the fact that four Christian peace activists had been "facing prison time for what was essentially a non-violent civil disobedience political action."
With thanks to Doug Hynd