Smash EDO activists claim they were legally justified in causing £180,000 damage to the EDO arms factory in Moulsecoomb as they were seeking to stop what they believed were Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the Guardian reports.
Of the eight activists on trial at Hove Crown Court, all but one are arguing a defence of lawful excuse – that they “decommissioned” the factory to prevent civilians being killed by the Israeli military.
Five of the defendants broke into the factory in January last year.
The defence of committing an offence to prevent a more serious crime has been used on a number of occasions by peace and climate change activists.
Stephen Shay, counsel for the prosecution, said: “Five … trespassers gave video-taped interviews prior to the incident stating their intent to cause damage to and ‘smash up’ EDO. This footage was posted on to a website known as Indymedia shortly after their arrest.”
The eight who deny they conspired to cause criminal damage are Elijah Smith, 42, on remand in Lewes jail; Robert Nicholls, 52, Tom Woodhead, 25, Harvey Tadman, 44, and Ornella Saibene, 50, all of Bristol, and Rosa Bellamy, 23, Simon Levin, 35, and Chris Osmond, 29, all of Brighton.
Bellamy denies she was part of the alleged conspiracy.
Smash EDO has mounted several protests against the factory, two of which have brought the city centre to a standstill with riot police drafted in to keep the peace.
The trial, which started yesterday, continues and is due to last seven weeks.