Appeals Court upholds “Darfur” conviction unanimously

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2007

Got word today that the Appeals Court in DC voted unanimously to uphold the conviction of seven activists for civil disobedience at the Sudanese Embassy in 2005.

The defendants plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Update: Scott Schaeffer-Duffy adds, “This is what the court ruled:”

District of Columbia Court of Appeals senior judges Newman, Belson, and Warren King: Appellants appeal their convictions of incommoding for blocking the entrance to the Sudanese embassy in protest of that country’s policies in Darfur. They claim that the trial court erred in rejecting their defenses of necessity and justification under international law. We affirm.

Substantially for the reasons stated by the trail judge in his Findings of the Court, we are satisfied that the government presented sufficient evidence to establish a violation of DC criminal code 22-1307 and that the court properly rejected the defenses put forth. United States v. Maxwell, Emry v. United States, Reale v. United States, Shiel v. United States, Griffin v. United States, Morgan v. District of Columbia. [cititions omitted]. Accordingly, the judgments of conviction are affirmed.

Scott adds:

The fact that the Appeals Court rendered its decision only two days after oral arguments and ruled in favor of the government which presented no oral argument at all, is unusual. One lawyer we know called it “disrespectful.” Even though the trial judge, prosecution, and government attorney who filed the brief for the District of Columbia all recognized that the issue at hand in this case is “genocide in Darfur,” the Appeals Court alludes only to “policies in Darfur.” Were this case concerning only amorphous policies which we object to instead of the uncontested violation of an international law which was ratified by the US Senate in 1986, we might let the case rest, but since the issue is of so much more seriousness than the Appeals Court afforded it, we will pursue this matter to the US Supreme Court. The cases the Appeals Court cited are all different in fact and law from the Sudanese Embassy case. This case is unprecedented, even though other cases tried unsuccessfully to raise international law and necessity. This case is the first to have evidence admitted at trial to support all the elements of a necessity defense, evidence that was not refuted or contested by the prosecution. This is the first case which concerned a harm affirmed by the President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense as well as the expert testimony admitted at trial. For the sake of the hundreds of thousand who have been killed in Darfur and the millions who are displaced and still at risk, we will vigorously appeal this decision and hope that it receives the serious attention it deserves at long last.

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