Jailed priest facing court over peace protest
A British priest who has been on remand in prison since November for his part in a peace protest is appearing in court this week.
Fr Martin Newell, 33 year old East London curate, faces charges of burglary and criminal damage, which carry a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment. He is being charged with another Catholic protester, 31 year old Susan van der Hijden.
The pair were arrested at RAF Wittering on 3 November last year, after they climbed over a fence and tried to disarm a nuclear-convoy vehicle used for carrying nuclear warheads for British submarines.
They painted the words 'The Kingdom of God is among you', 'Drop the debt, not the bombs' and 'Love is the fulfilment of the Law' on the truck. Then they went in search of the guards and gave themselves up.
Fr Martin and Susan explained in a statement: "We acted in a spirit of repentance for our complicity in crime against humanity and God. We have acted to uphold the law. Through the Jubilee 2000 campaign, the church has committed herself to working for justice for the poor and the oppressed. British nuclear weapons are a central part of the chain of oppression."
Parishioners were scheduled to join a number of peace groups, including a monk and nun from the Nipponzon Myohoji Buddhist Order, for a prayer vigil outside the court.