Christian peacemakers given jail sentence in Sweden

Christian peacemakers given jail sentence in Sweden

By agency reporter
18 Mar 2009
Martin and Anna

A Swedish court has sentenced two peacemakers to four months in prison.

It comes after they broke into a Swedish factory last Autumn and disarmed lethal weapons.

Martin Smedjeback and Anna Andersson entered the Saab Bofors arms factory in Eskilstuna, Sweden on 16 October 2008, and disabled fourteen Carl Gustaf bazookas.

During the trial, the judge allowed Andersson and Smedjeback to explain their actions, and they said they had committed the break-in to uphold the Swedish government's ban on supplying arms to warring states.

The judge dismissed Saab's claim for some 120,000 Euros in damages.

Smedjeback, a nonviolence trainer since 2001, completed training with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in 2007. His training, based in Chicago, included a ‘public witness’ action at depleted uranium weapons maker, Alliant Tech, in Minnesota.

"Saab Bofors Dynamics delivers grenade launchers to the US military, which uses them in Iraq among other places. I am ready to be imprisoned if necessary to hinder arms exports that cause so much suffering and death," said Smedjeback, 35.

Web developer Anna Andersson, 27, added: "It is my duty to intervene due to the gross criminal damage and death that Saab causes around the world. Others who get in the way of Swedish weaponry, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan, pay a substantially higher price."

A public gathering following the verdict on the Eskilstuna main square featured speeches from representatives of Sweden's largest peace and civil society movements. The chairperson of the Christian Social Democratic movement emphasized the importance of popular resistance against weapons exports.

"I commend with all my heart the bravery of Swedish citizens who oppose the weapons export of their government," wrote Daniel Berrigan, a poet and one of the Ploughshares Movement’s founders, who joined about a thousand international and Swedish supporters expressing support on www.avrusta.se and Facebook.

Smedjeback was also sentenced to pay restitution of 15,500 Euros for jumping over a fence at the Aimpoint red dot sights facility in Malmö, Sweden, in November 2008.

Andersson's and Smedjeback's work is part of the ongoing Avrusta campaign, launched by the Swedish anti-militarist network Ofog ('Mischief') in September 2008.

Two other activists damaged parts of nine Howitzer FH77B towed artillery guns last October. Sentences for Avrusta actions against arms exports now total fourteen months of imprisonment and 37,500 Euros in damages.

CPT will hold its first training for Europeans in the UK this Autumn.

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