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30 JULY

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

[ 30 July 1996 ]

On this day in 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 brutal grip of the Suharto dictatorship, which intended to use them to crush the East Timor insurgency.  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 being assisting Suharto it his genocidal campaign against the people of East Timor.  In the previous two decades, it is estimated that about one in three of East Timor’s population had been slaughtered by Indonesian death squads, amounting to 200,000 people.[1]

The Indonesian military had even been able to escape any serious consequence when they killed British, Australian and other international journalists who reported on their atrocities and despite the escalating Indonesian war crimes,  Britain continued to export vital military hardware to the Indonesian government.[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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