Scottish judge keeps two airport protesters in jail
Stars and Stripes August 10, 2006
RAF MILDENHALL, England — Two of 17 war protesters who were arrested this week for breaking into a Scottish airport remained behind bars Wednesday.
A Scottish judge remanded Sylvia Boyes, 64, of West Yorkshire, and Steven Van Elsen, 25, of Faslane, to jail Wednesday.
Fifteen other peace activists accused of breaking into Glasgow’s Prestwick International Airport were released on bail, according to Edinburgh Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal.
All 17 defendants — who range in age from 21 to 68 and hail from across the U.K. and Europe — face at least one count of unlawfully entering a restricted airport, according to the crown office. They were arrested in three separate incidents on Sunday and Monday.
Seven of the 17 protesters face one charge each of illegally entering an airplane. Five of those seven are also charged with the willful destruction or damage to a perimeter fence and breaking an emergency door release handle, the court said.
The first batch of protesters is due back in Ayr Sheriff’s Court on Aug. 24. More are slated to appear in court Sept. 4. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $9,100 fine, according to Lisa Potter, spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Crown Office.
Several of the protesters, who belong to the Norfolk-based anti-war group, Trident Ploughshares, were arrested after boarding a U.S. Air National Guard C-130 aircraft based with the 166th Airlift Wing in Wilmington, Del.
The plane was in Scotland to refuel as part of its mission to transport roughly a dozen servicemembers back to the United States from Afghanistan, according to Delaware National Guard spokesman Sgt. Nathan Bright.
Bright said the plane landed at Prestwick Airport rather than at one of the Air Force bases in the United Kingdom due to mechanical difficulties and that the plane has been repaired and was due back in Delaware on Wednesday.
The protesters’ Web site said the group broke into the airport and boarded the Air National Guard plane as well as a Polar Air cargo plane in search of weapons bound for Israel.
“Britain is breaching international law by allowing Prestwick to be used by the U.S. to fly bombs to Israel,” according to a statement on the group’s Web site, Tridentploughares.org.
Several dozen protesters gathered outside RAF Mildenhall earlier this month to protest Atlas Air flights that landed here for refueling, saying they carried weapons for fighting in the Middle East.
An Atlas Air spokeswoman e-mailed Stars and Stripes that the Purchase, N.Y.-based firm has no comment on the incident.