French arms dealers Magforce appeared at Thames Magistrates Court yesterday to answer charges that they and another company, Tianjin MyWay, sold illegal weapons at the DSEi arms fair last year in London.
Anti arms trade activists have brought the case against Magforce. Susannah Mengesha, the claimant, told Corporate Watch: “Today at the very court where we ourselves were due to stand trial for disrupting the arms fair, two international arms companies will finally begin to be held to account for their promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEi.
This is a rare opportunity to confront the arms dealers for (some of) their actions on our own terms and for once in a forum of our own choosing.
We are absolutely clear that Magforce and Tianjin MyWay promoted illegal torture weapons at DSEi. It is also true that we oppose the sale for corporate profit of all machines designed to inflict torture and death more widely.
Whatever the outcome of this trial, there is nothing the court could do to undo the experiences of the victims of these despicable electro-shock weapons.
This case is just one aspect of a much wider struggle. The DSEi arms fair cannot be stopped by litigation alone. We must resist the arms fair on all fronts – in the courtroom, via public debate and on the streets.”
The two activists bringing the case had previously been on trial for public order offences during the protests against the 2013 DSEi arms fair. Their charges were dropped after they argued that their actions were justified due to the illegal activities of companies at the fair.
Magforce were represented by Ian Morley, a Queens Counsel from 23 Essex Street. The case is likely to be listed for a full trial later this year.
Anti-militarist campaigners have launched a private prosecution of two arms companies. A statement by the activists lawyers reads:
“Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors today confirmed that they have obtained a summons against two international arms companies – TIAJIN MYWAY INTERNATIOANL TRADING COMPANY and MAGFORCE INTERNATIONAL for promoting unlawful weapons at the DSEi Arms Fair in the Excel Centre in September 2013.
Evidence that both companies had promoted unlawful weapons emerged during the arms fair itself. This lead to companies being ejected from the fair and the relevant material being passed to authorities.1
HJA had written to the DPP, CPS, Revenue and Customs, the Met police, Vince Cable and the Attorney General2 to enquire about an investigation by the State and make representation that action should be taken against the companies – to date no substantive response has been received.
The arms companies were promoting stun guns/stun batons and leg restraints – all of which are classified as “Category A items” under the Export Order Act 2008 and should not have been promoted in the arms fair.”
The two activists had previously been on trial for public order offences during the protests against the 2013 DSEi arms fair. Their charges were dropped after they argued that their actions were justified due to the illegal activities of companies at the fair. A statement from the activists reads:
“Following repeated attempts by our lawyers at disclosure regarding the nature and extent of the authorities’ investigation into breaches of law at the arms fair, most of our trial group’s criminal prosecutions were dropped. This week, we commenced our own private prosecution proceedings against the arms dealers.
We want to make clear that we are not merely opposed to ‘illegal’ weapons at the arms fair, we are against the arms fair full stop and everything it represents: the corruption, the human misery, and the profiteering by a narrow elite at the expense of people and planet. We see this private prosecution as a further step towards meeting our objective of discrediting and then stopping the DSEI arms fair for good.
Please support us in this campaign and spread this message.”
For more info see http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk
Blockade of the 2013 DSEi arms fair (Photo taken by Campaign against arms trade)
This week the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) discontinued a case against five activists charged with disrupting the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair. Here is a personal account from one of the defendants. Continue reading
By Stop the Arms Fair
This February, several activists are on trial for taking action against the DSEi arms fair. The intention was to stop the arms fair from being set up by blockading roads used to transport military equipment and weaponry into the Excel Centre. Continue reading
Click here for a podcast of Corporate Watch’s interview with Dissident Island Radio on the use of Palestine as a testing ground for ‘non-lethal’ weapons.
Corporate Watch and Disarm DSEi have produced a map showing the locations of all 924 exhibitors at the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair. The map is intended to show that the arms trade is present in every community in the UK. The map also represents the first stage in Corporate Watch’s ‘Mapping the Arms Trade’ project aimed at creating a comprehensive interactive map showing locations of arms dealers across the UK. The map can be viewed at www.dsei.org. Continue reading