Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Judge shown soldier protest CCTV

Seven men on trial
The seven men on trial have denied the charges against them

CCTV images of a protest in Bedfordshire which took place during a homecoming parade for soldiers has been played to magistrates in Luton.

Slogans were chanted as the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment marched through the town last March.

Seven men are on trial and have denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress.

The protest prompted a violent backlash from people lining the streets.

Those accused are Jalal Ahmed, 21; Yousaf Bashir, 29; Ibrahim Anderson, 32; Jubair Ahmed, 19; Ziaur Rahman, 32; Shajjadar Choudhury, 31, and Munim Abdul, 29.

District Judge Carolyn Mellanby was shown the 90-minute video recording compiled from CCTV and images taken by Bedfordshire police.

The footage shows a group waving placards saying: "Anglian Soldiers: Butchers of Basra", "Innocent Muslims held captive", "Anglian Soldiers: Cowards, Killers, Extremists", and "British Government, Terrorist Government".

Protesters led away

One also held a bedsheet with the words "Anglian soldiers are war criminals" daubed across it, and another had a poster with the title "Iraq War Casualties" with pictures of wounded civilians.

The protesters can also be heard shouting: "British Army, murderers", as well as "British soldiers go to hell", and "shame, shame, shame on you".

One protester shouted to the crowds using a microphone: "They are killing babies, they are shooting babies, they are raping women and you are supporting this."

The CCTV footage shows angry passers-by stopping and gathering around the men, separated by uniformed police officers.

At one point chants of "scum, scum, scum" can be heard as well as chants of "England, England, England".

At one point one man suggests to the police that the protesters should be arrested, saying: "That's inciting racial hatred by saying it. That should never have been allowed to happen."

The protesters were eventually led away from the scene by police.

The court heard some of the defendants admitted saying certain things, but the issue was when and to whom they made the comments.

Soldiers 'not bothered'

Under cross-examination, Insp James Goldsmith, who was in charge of policing on the ground, conceded that the protesters had been fully compliant with police at all times, and none of their chants or placards had included swearing or foul language.

The court heard a letter was sent to Bedfordshire Police from Lt Col (Retd) Kevin Hodgson OBE, regimental secretary of the Royal Anglian Regiment, saying the soldiers had not been bothered "one jot" by the protesters.

The letter, also sent to the press, said: "The regiment is most conscious that after what we considered to be a marvellous homecoming parade the actions of a tiny minority grabbed the headlines in some sections of the national media.

"We want you all to know that our soldiers cared not a jot about that.

"They have had far worse thrown at them.

"Our soldiers saw the thousands of well-wishers on the streets so that will be their lasting memory of that great day."

The case continues.

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