1990-1999 | Arms exports | Backing dictatorships | Indonesia

30 JULY

WOMEN ACQUITTED OF DAMAGING AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUNDS OF PREVENTING A GREATER CRIME.

[ 30 July 1996 ]

On 30 July 1996, four women were acquitted by a Liverpool court of causing £1.5 million damage to Hawk ground attack aircraft which were to be sold to Indonesia, then under the dictatorial grip of General Suharto, who intended to use them to crush an insurgency in East Timor.  The jury took just five hours to reach their verdict, reasoning that the women had acted to prevent a greater evil.

The British government had for years been assisting Suharto in his genocidal campaign against the people of East Timor who were fighting for their independence.  In the previous two decades, it is estimated that about 200,000 or about one in three of East Timor’s population had been slaughtered by the general’s death squads.1 The Indonesian military were able to escape any serious consequence of their actions, even when they killed British, Australian and other international journalists who reported on their atrocities and despite the escalating war crimes,  Britain continued to supply Suharto’s regime with vital military hardware.2

FOOTNOTES

  1. Hugh O’Shaughnessy, ‘Hawk attack women freed,’ The Independent, 31 July 1996 accessed online at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/pounds-15m-hawk-attack-women-freed-1331285.html
  2. Ibid.

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