There were jubilant scenes in a Belfast court yesterday as six anti-war protesters were unanimously acquitted of destroying property belonging to multinational arms company Raytheon.
s the Crown Court jury of four men and seven women were led from Court 14 at the Laganside complex, the six Londonderry men and their supporters who had packed the public gallery clapped and cheered in appreciation of the not guilty verdicts.
The six, author and Belfast Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann (65), from Westland Avenue, and his co-accused James Anthon Kelly, (47) of Rathkeele Way, Eamon O'Donnell (53), of Campion Court, Colm Donal Sarto Bryce (42) of Westland Avenue, Sean Heaton (35) of Circular Road and 42-year-old Kieran Vincent Gallagher of Craft Village, were each acquitted of causing criminal damage to the building and offices of Raytheon and an employee's car on August 9 2006.
But McCann was convicted by a majority of 10 to one of stealing two computer disks belonging to the company but he walked free after Judge Tom Burgess imposed a 12 month conditional discharge.
Speaking outside the court, Colm Bryce declared that their actions had been " completely vindicated" and that the verdicts were "very welcome to ourselves and our families" but that he wanted to dedicate them to the bereaved families in Qana in the Lebanon who had been bombed by Israeli Forces using missiles made by Raytheon.
"This court has found, I believe that Raytheon are guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes in the Middle East and we feel vindicated in taking the action that we did," declared the activist.
Standing alongside his co-accused, Mr McCann read from a prepared statement where he echoed the sentiments that the six "have been vindicated".
He also called on politicians and citizens of Derry "to say in unequivocal terms that Raytheon is not welcome in our city.
"We have not denied or apologised for what we did. Personally speaking, and I believe I speak for all of us, it was the best thing i have ever done in my life," declared Mr McCann.
Over four weeks the jury had heard that following repeated bombing of Lebanese property where numerous civilians died, on August 9 the anti-war protestors forced their way into the Raytheon plant just outside Derry and caused significant damage to their server and computers.