Brighton, 9 April 2015
The prosecution case against a local Palestinian activist collapsed this morning, when the presiding judge acknowledged that the evidence of the two witnesses for the prosecution had been completely contradicted by video footage. There was therefore no case to answer. The wrongly-accused defendant was exonerated, and excused from the court without conditions.
The trial related to an incident alleged to have taken place during a demonstration outside the Ecostream store in Western Road on the 17th of May 2014 – part of a two-year campaign protesting against the complicity of Ecostream in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. On the day, two pro-Israel counter-protesters made a formal complaint to the police. They accused one of our number of calling them ‘nazis’, and of doing so in a personally threatening and abusive way that caused them deep alarm and distress ‘as jewish women’. They alleged that he had come over to where they were positioned, called them both ‘fucking nazis’ and shook his finger at them ‘within two inches of their faces’ in a menacing way.
This led to a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to charge our comrade with a racially/religiously aggravated public order offence under Section 5, and to proceed to prosecution.
The prosecution case was based entirely on the witness statements of the two zionist counter-protesters – both of whom are prominent members of Sussex Friends of Israel (one the Co-Chair). At the start of the trial in February, both witnesses re-stated in open court the accusations they had made last May in interview and in writing.
In February, the court was shown video footage from the day in question – including CCTV footage from inside the Ecostream shop. The footage clearly showed that, throughout the period of time in question, our comrade was standing several yards from the ‘victims’. At no point did he stand anywhere near them. On the video he was heard to say ‘You’re all nazis – all the zionists are nazis’.
The prosecution accepted that this video evidence captured the entirety of the alleged offence. With the witness statements directly contradicted by video evidence, the prosecution case collapsed.
The judge therefore ruled that our comrade’s behaviour had not been threatening, that his words were not personally directed at the witnesses, that his words alone in this context had not caused alarm or distress, and that the video footage showed that no one else at the demo had taken any notice of what he said – let alone been distressed. Therefore: ‘No case to answer’.
We’re naturally pleased that this case has collapsed and that the zionist witnesses have been completely discredited. But the trial leaves several important questions unanswered:
Why was this time-consuming and costly prosecution approved and conducted, when it was based solely on flimsy and invented witness statements by two politically-motivated zionists? This is especially shocking when the police were aware throughout the Ecostream campaign of the genuinely racist, sexist and homophobic abuse of pro-Palestinian demonstrators by the zionists.
We now know that the zionists’ evidence was completely fabricated – they lied to the police and they lied in court in an attempt to get one of our number convicted of a hate crime. Video footage from Sussex Friends of Israel’s own Facebook page, played in open court, showed that this had been their deliberate and conspiratorial intention on the day. This is a criminal offence. Will they be charged with perjury?