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Saturday, 11 December, 1999, 10:14 GMT
Petition challenge to Trident legality

Nuclear protest Three protesters were acquitted in October


The Scottish Parliament's public petitions committee is to consider the legality of nuclear weapons.

Three challenges to Trident from members of the public will be made to the committee when it meets next week.

It follows the decision in October by a sheriff to acquit members of a peace group who damaged a floating Trident laboratory platform.

Three CND activists walked free from Greenock Sheriff Court after facing charges that they maliciously damaged equipment at the Faslane nuclear submarine base.


A submarine Trident has been targeted by activists
The three women, Angela Zelter, 48, Ellen Moxley, 45, and Bodil Ulla Roder, 45, were accused of having caused damage worth 80,000 to a research lab.

Sheriff Margaret Gimblett said she accepted the argument put forward by defence advocate John Mayer, who said Trident was illegal under international law and the women were acting simply to prevent a crime.

Mr Mayer said an opinion expressed by the International Court of Justice in 1996 made Trident and all nuclear weapons illegal.

This meant the women had committed a crime but were acting to prevent other crimes taking place and so in Scots law should be acquitted, he told the court.

The sheriff's acceptance of that provoked outrage among opposition parties.

Scotland's most senior law officer is expected to appeal against the ruling.

The Lord Advocate Lord Hardie is understood to have demanded a full report into Sheriff Gimblett's decision.

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See also:
15 Feb 99 |  UK
Arrests at anti-nuclear protest
18 Aug 98 |  UK
Protesters arrested at Faslane
16 Aug 98 |  UK
Peace protesters arrested at subs base
22 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Sheriff dubs nuclear programme illegal

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