Friday, November 03, 2006

Coronet Five Not Guilty after Anarchist Bookfair Trial - report

Report from Coronet Court Report | 03.11.2006 15:58 | Indymedia | Repression | London

The Crown Court case against five people arrested on the serious charge of Affray under the Public Order Act 1986after last year's Anarchist bookfair concluded yesterday with the last of the defendants being found not guilty.

After a marathon three week trial, the jury yesterday returned not guilty verdicts on the four remaining defendants.

The trial saw some extraordinary admissions from police witnesses, such as one officer who freely admitted writing things about the incident, which he hadn’t even seen, in his police notebook. He said that other officers had told him what had happened later in the police canteen.

Another officer made a chilling admission, which drew gasps from the jury, when he said if he had to push people into the path of oncoming traffic, then so be it. He also said he didn't care whether people ran, walked or crawled away from the scene.

The defendants’ experiences together show how easy it can be for police officers to arbitrarily arrest innocent people and subject them to a stressful ordeal lasting a full year. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is what one of the defendants said during the trial, another was guilty of nothing more than making a monkey pose at one particularly large officer, others gave evidence saying that they were jumped on and arrested as they respectively took photographs of the scene, told officers to calm down, and went to the aid of a woman who had been pushed to the ground; one even testified how he was punched repeatedly while handcuffed in the back of a police van and another recounted how he was hooded whilst lying handcuffed in the street.

Inaccurate prejudices and crazy conclusion jumping was displayed by the media, perhaps fed by the court reporter who was present on the first day of the jury trial. An article, which appeared in a local Bristol daily, screamed ‘Anarchists join forces with football hooligans to fight police'!

Before their arrests none of the defendants knew each other. Different ages, different backgrounds, different interests. But now after a year of facing a possible three-year prison sentence they've learnt a lot about each other, about solidarity, and have become friends. It's interesting to note that while one person was pronounced not guilty last week, and three more yesterday lunchtime, it was only at the end of the day, when the fifth and final not guilty verdict was returned, that the celebrations truly began.

Finally all five have expressed their gratitude to everyone who has provided support over the last year, and in particular over the last few weeks.

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