There were jubilant scenes at a Belfast court June 11 as six Derry anti-war protesters were unanimously acquitted of destroying property belonging to multinational arms company Raytheon. The six, including 65-year-old author and journalist Eamonn McCann, were each cleared of causing criminal damage to the building and offices of Raytheon and an employee’s car at an August 9, 2006 protest over Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon.
McCann was convicted by a majority of ten to one of stealing two computer disks belonging to the company, but he walked free after Judge Tom Burgess imposed a 12-month conditional discharge. Defendant Colm Bryce declared that he wanted to dedicate the not-guilty verdicts to the bereaved families in Lebanon who had been bombed by Israeli Forces using missiles made by Raytheon. “We feel vindicated in taking the action that we did,” declared the anti-war activist.
McCann said in a prepared statement: “The jury have accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that the Israeli Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. The action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes.” He also called on politicians and the citizens of Derry “to say in unequivocal terms that Raytheon is not welcome in our city.”
In the 2006 action, the protestors forced their way into the Raytheon plant in Derry and caused significant damage to its server and computers. The six all claimed their reason for doing so was to protect the lives and property of people in Lebanon. (Derry Journal, June 11)