I was in the public gallery of Court 4 at Highbury Corner magistrates courts this afternoon (1/2/2010) with about twenty other supporters of Dan Viesnik. Dan is a peace activist and active supporter of Brent Green Party.
The facts of the case are much as reported already on http://greenleftblog.blogspot.com/ and http://wembleymatters.blogspot.com/. Dan had refused to pay a total of £515 in fines and costs imposed after his arrest for a sit down protest in the entrance to Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment.
As his letter to the court (quoted on http://greenleftblog.blogspot.com/), shows Dan has decided to continue his protest against the grotesque distortions of justice caused by the British Government’s committment to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Dan continued his argument in the statement that he read out to the court which protested against the resources spent on nukes in a world where chronic poverty continued. Dan ended his statement with a quote from Thoreau affirming that an individual acting according to his/her own conscience should be a better guide to conduct than the letter of law. In this instance I agree with Dan and Thoreau.
Advised by the Clerk of the Court, the Bench decided that Dan’s explicit refusal to pay his fine or even acknowledge that he had committed a crime by giving details of his means, meant that they had no option but to imprison Dan. The fact that they gave him 14 days rather than 28 which they could have done, may indicate sympathy or may indicate a wish to minimize the prison population, but in any event, I am sure that Dan has the best wishes and support of many Green Party members and others. I hope that we will be able to find a way to let him know this.