WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Waihopai three face damages suit in court.

Civil action in the High Court in Wellington on August 8

Cecily McNeill

10 August 2011

The Waihopai three spent the first week of August fasting and praying in preparation for a civil action in the High Court in Wellington on August 8.

The three, Dominican Fr Peter Murnane, Adrian Leason and Sam Land, were acquitted in March 2010 of charges of burglary and wilful damage to the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim. However, the government is now suing them for $1.2 million in damages to the cover of one of two satellite dishes and to the fence.

altAdrian Leason told a Catholic Peacemakers’ meeting last month a key point in their case will be that the law says if you are involved in criminal activity and your property is damaged in the process, you cannot sue for the repair of your property.

‘So if you’re a drug dealer driving your illegal drugs across town and someone breaks the road rules and crashes into you, damaging your stereo on the front seat, you can’t sue that person for damages because you’re involved in a criminal activity.
‘What we’re trying to say to the court is that we believe the Government Communications Security Bureau is involved in criminal activity under both NZ and international law.

‘We have affidavits from eminent experts on the base and its operation to provide a basic threshold of evidence to establish that this suit needs to go to a trial.’

altHe said if the judge decides that the three have a case that can be argued further, they will be asking whether the New Zealand Government received the Koza email – ‘An instruction from a senior American official to say all bases need to spy on the Security Council in the leadup to the Iraq war. Whistleblower Catherine Gunn revealed this email from Mr Koza to the press and blew the lid off the Echelon network which created a huge furore.’

The three will also be asking whether NZ spied on Chinese diplomats to find out what they want to do and whether taxpayers want this facility used in this way.

Mr Leason said the theme of their preparation for the case has been enemy love based on the Gospel of Matthew, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ [5:43].

He said the three and their supporters did not want to antagonise the GCSB ‘because we are not struggling with flesh and blood or with our brothers and sisters. We are struggling with ideas – the idea that war can bring peace or that evil can bring good.’

He said it was difficult when powerful people wanted to punish them. ‘We’re not wealthy people. We’re not well connected. We can’t call in favours. There are pressures among the media and politicians that would like to discredit us.’

Mr Leason says a recent justice and peace group hui in Otaki discussed the idea of hospicing the old – ‘When the old order is dying, with dignity, love and reverence we nurse the old order away. We also talked about midwifing in a new society of love. We don’t want to be part of giving birth to the old establishment under a new name and banner. So we want to identify things that need to be hospiced and also be open to the midwifing of the society of love that we all long for.
‘There’s a lot needing to be gently and lovingly laid to rest to allow new life to emerge.’

He said August 8 was significant as the feast day of St Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, whose inspiration came to them over eight centuries with his exhortation to ‘Fight the good fight … with fasting and prayer.’

Links: Ploughshares Three acquitted

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