A fabulous beginning.
Around 100 people from Wellington gathered at the Cenotaph next to Parliament house, with banners and signs and an abundance of goodwill. At 9 am we all processed to the District Court building and sang in support of the 3 defendants. Adi called on the children and mothers – our future – to come forward for a particular blessing.
Some stayed outside all day maintaining a vigil and public witness, others filled the public gallery to overflowing.
The morning was spent empanelling the jury, instructing the media (one pool television camera has been allowed inside the Court) and there were around 8 media workers witnessing all morning and some of the afternoon. Judge Harrup instructed the jury on how the trial process would run, and what their duties were. My first highlight was hearing a judge talk with a Kiwi accent. My second thrill was hearing the Judge refer to Peter Murnane as “Father”.
Then we had the opening addresses, with Mr Boyd-Wilson opening for the prosecution. He was young, and his presentation of the facts was dry and basic. He did a good job for what seems in some ways to be an open and shut case. At the beginning it was “Peter Murnane, the accused”, but Mr Boyd-Wilson couldn’t help himself, and the “Father Murnane”s emerged from his mouth and continued throughout the day. I think it’s hard to seriously condemn someone you’re calling “Father”.
Because the facts are not being disputed, the real work of the prosecution will lie in knocking down the defences that the Waihopai 3 plan to raise – “necessity”, “self defence” and “claim of right”.
Mr Knowles, representing Adi Leason, opened for the defence in an elegant and eloquent manner. He told the jury that the defendents would be admitting all the facts, and they (the jury) might wonder why the trial was necessary. Then he laid it on them:
“This is an exceptional trial. There are times when law, morality and humanity come together to make would otherwise be unlawful. Those times are when the preservation of human life is involved. Human life is no less a human life because it resides in a foreign land, or dresses funny, or has a different skin colour.
“It’s also an exceptional case because it is in the area of foreign intelligence. Foreign intelligence is the one area of our society where democracy and free process is not allowed to go. Where there is a Faustian pact between the government and the intelligence agencies. Where the government says ‘we won’t ask any questions’ – and the intelligence agencies say ‘good! We won’t tell you any lies
Then Peter Murnane, who’s representing himself showed both his character and his motivation to the jury and said what he will say many times during this trial – that he broke a lesser law to protect the lives and property of others from serious threat by the US military.
That the New Zealand government, by allowing the US to run Waihopai, assists the US to commit the great crimes of
– overthrowing legitimate governments
– waging wars of aggression
– kidnapping and torture
– the widespread use of WMDs, particularly depleted Uranium.
It was in opposition to these crimes that the Waihopai Ploughshares deployed nonviolence in the tradition of the Catholic Workers and Ploughshares actions, makingmanifest the prophecy of Isaiah.
Mr Shaw, for Sam Land brought out the great covenants of international law, and said the defendants were acting nonviolently against such consequences of Waihopai asGenocide, torture, arbitrary detention and the targetting in war of civilian populations. supporters picketed outside GCSB HQ in Moreland St.
During the lunch break
After lunch, the prosecution led all of its eight witnesses, six of whom are Police, along with one GCSB security guard and a local farmer.
Because the facts are agreed, I was mainly interested in what the prosecution testimony revealed about the security state, and about the security at Waihopai.
First, the sophisticated and unbeatable security alarms stop working under some “atmospheric condition” (rain). So does the electrified fencing.
Second there was fog, either “some passing” or “thickly wrapping” the base. I’m interested in this because none of the accused saw any fog at all, and think it an excuse made up to cover a poor security performance. I wonder whether the fog might not have beencreated by God in the minds of state security as he walked with his children into the base (just speculatin’).
Third was the respect and acknowledgement of humanity between all the security/police and the three. It was clear that all these people share mutual respect.
Fourth and final was the showing of video-taped interviews conducted between Detective Kevin Nicholls and Father Peter Murnane – in which Peter’s humanity, knowledge, commitment and ascerbic wit shine through. What Peter said to Police on the day is exactly the same as he is saying to the Jury today – and the jury must have been impressed with his integrity and genuine feeling for life and Christian principles.
Which rounded out the day in Court. Support crew and defendants kept on with organising and networking tasks (and prayer). In the new morning tomorrow the defence will begin calling evidence. The trial is expected to last another seven days.
2 thoughts on “Day One Goes Off!”
Thanks for the detail Bryan. Solidarity to all.
Thank you for this update and thank you to the defendants. The Ithaca New York Catholic Worker send love and prayers and many thanks for the beautiful witness.