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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 16:14 GMT
Judges to examine Trident case

Nuclear protest The three women were acquitted in October

The High Court in Edinburgh is to re-examine a sheriff's decision to acquit three peace protestors of maliciously damaging a nuclear submarine base.

At a hearing expected to take place later this week, the Lord Advocate, Lord Hardie, will look at the original ruling made by Sheriff Margaret Gimblett at Greenock Sheriff Court.

The CND activists - Angela Zelter, 48, Ellen Moxley, 45, and Bodil Ulla Roder, 45 - had been accused of causing 80,000 damage to a research lab at Faslane.

'Preventing a crime'

Sheriff Gimblett acquitted the three after accepting the argument put forward by defence advocate John Mayer, that 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.

A submarine Trident has been targeted by activists
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 verdict provoked outrage among opposition parties and the Lord Advocate demanded a full report into Sheriff Gimblett's decision.

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

'Definitive' ruling sought

Although the High Court will be able to look at the case it does not have the power to overturn the women's acquittal.

The Lord Advocate wants a definitive ruling from senior judges about the legality of the sheriff's stance.

Meanwhile, a dispute over personal belongings after the case has been resolved.

The three protesters have already been told that personal property - including clothes, tools and banners which were seized when the women were arrested - will be returned to them.

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See also:
11 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Petition challenge to Trident legality
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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