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Posted Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004 at 1:17 p.m. CST

Juries acquit peace activists

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Two juries acquitted eight peace activists of criminal trespass in trials before the Hennepin County Court Dec. 10 and 14. The activists used provisions of international law in their defense.

On six occasions last summer, members of AlliantACTION, a grass-roots peace organization, tried to deliver documents citing international treaties that condemn the manufacturing of indiscriminate weapons to executives of Alliant TechSystems in Edina, Minn. The company is the U.S. Army's largest private supplier of ammunition and has manufactured antipersonnel landmines, cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions.

At the trials, the activists used the 'claim of right' provision in Minnesota trespass law to argue that because the U.S. Constitution identifies international treaties, ratified by the U.S. government, as "the supreme law of the land" it was reasonable for them to enter the property of the weapons manufacturer. In both instances, juries issued not guilty verdicts based on "reasonable doubt."

Defendant Steve Clemens called the acquittals "a victory for conscience and international law." Another four trials stemming from the summer actions with 3 to 5 defendants each are expected in coming weeks.

Editor's Note: Read the print issue of National Catholic Reporter in January to learn more about this topic.

National Catholic Reporter, December 15, 2004

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