Trident Acquittal Sinks In

COULPORT, Scotland --The acquittal of Ulla Roder, Ellen Moxley and Angie Zelter on Oct. 21 at Greenock Sheriff Court has been recognized worldwide as a landmark for the peace movement.

The women were charged with malicious damage and theft from the barge Maytime, a floating laboratory at the Faslane Naval Base in Scotland, which provides operational support for Trident submarines. The women used life rafts to reach the laboratory and threw equipment and papers overboard into Loch Goil before they were arrested.

Defense attorney John Mayer argued that Trident was illegal under international law, and that the women were acting simply to prevent a crime. Mayer said a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1996 made Trident and all nuclear weapons illegal.

There were cheers and applause as the women walked free from the court after the trial that lasted 4 1/2 weeks. They had been in prison since their arrest at the Clydeside base on June 8.

During the trial before a jury and Sheriff (Judge) Margaret Gimblett, the defense called expert witnesses who gave evidence on the applicability of international law to the case, the nature of Britain's Trident nuclear weapon system and the country's defense policy. The government offered no substantial rebuttal of this testimony.

The Sheriff concluded that the women had acted without malice or criminal intent. In her view, the illegality of the Trident system under international law justified their action. She directed the jury to acquit on all charges.