Pine Gap trespassers escape imprisonment

Andrew (Andy) Paine, Jim Dowling, Tim Webb and Franz Dowling outside the Federal Court in Brisbane
Contributed by Ugly

Christian opponents of the Pine Gap Military base near Alice Springs  had their day in Northern Territory Supreme Court yesterday, facing charges of trespass on the secret military base on 29 September last year.

Contrary to earlier pressure from the government, the defendants were not imprisoned. The charge of trespass on commonwealth property, especially when it involves a secret military facility, carries with it a potential 7 years jail.

Queenslanders James Dowling, Franz Dowling, Andy Paine, Tim Webb and Margaret Pestorius admitted  that they had scaled the the 1.2 metre surrounding fence and entered the base. They  were therefore found guilty.

When Justice John Reeves did not impose a jail sentence, the crowd of supporters in the court cheered, given that the court had decided to pull back from harsh treatment. This is seen  as a significant victory, achieved by the campaign to defend those before the court.

Justice Reeves said he did not want to create martyrs.

He also siad, “Your activities posed no real threat to the Pine Gap facility.” He added that he did not agree with the Crown’s assertion that the “offences struck at the heart of national security, although you were caught before any such harm could occur”.

The defendants were fined.

Margaret Pestorius and James Dowling got special attention. Being the oldest in the group, they were told that they should set the example for the others. Consequently, Justice Reeve imposed a larger fine on them. They were ordered to pay $3500 and $5,000 respectively.

The incursion into Pine Gap by this group ws part of a broader and ongoing campaign to have Pine Gap closed. This specific action took place, because the base is being used as a key component for guiding drone strikes, directed by the United States against other countries and makes Australia complicit in crimes agiainst humanity.

The existence of a military base under the command of another nation also undermines Australia’s sovereignty and Australian control over happens on our soil.

Campaigning against Pine Gap will continue.



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