NEWCASTLE — At the Stop Aidex protest, Peace Forum members Ron Gallagher and Bob Berghout were arrested. Both pleaded not guilty.
Ron's trial is coming up early in April and Bob's was brought to a happy conclusion two weeks ago when his charge of hindering police in the execution of their duty was dismissed in the ACT Magistrates Court.
Bob's was the first contested case arising out of Aidex and, hopefully, will set a useful precedent. His defence was based on the Federal Police Act, which lists the prevention of injury or death and the prevention of damage to property as among the duties of police.
He used Hansard to document the sale of ammunition by Aidex exhibitors to Indonesia and pointed to the use of ammunition (albeit not necessarily Australia) at the Dili massacre two weeks before Aidex. He argued that his action to hinder arms sales complemented, rather than hindered, the duties of police as defined in the act.
Magistrate Ward found Bob guilty of making it harder for police to meet their specific duty of keeping the road open, but noted the higher issues involved, considered Bob to have acted out of pure motives and dismissed the charge without recording a conviction.
[From the newsletter of the Newcastle Peace Forum.]