Environment News Service


TOWSON, Maryland, March 20, 2000 (ENS) - Phil Berrigan, longtime anti-nuclear activist, goes on trial today with three fellow protesters for a December 1999 act of sabotage on a Maryland military base to protest the use of depleted uranium shells. On December 19, Berrigan, Susan Crane, Reverend Steve Kelly, SJ and Elizabeth Walz disarmed two A-10 Thunderbolt bombers at the Warfield Air National Guard Base in Essex, Maryland. The activists disabled the planes by pouring some of their own blood into their fuel tanks. On January 18, 2000, the four were indicted by a grand jury in Towson. They are charged with sabotage and conspiracy to commit sabotage - each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison - conspiracy to commit malicious destruction and trespass. Their trial is expected to last all week.

Thunderbolt bombers can fire up to 3,900 shells per minute. These planes were responsible to releasing 95 percent of the armor piercing depleted uranium bullets fired during the recent wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, Berrigan says. In a statement, Berrigan blames the radioactive uranium for cancer and other illnesses in American military personnel, birth defects in American, British and Iraqi babies, and radioactive soil contamination. "Our blood seals the new covenant of nonviolence and non killing," said Berrigan. "We will not kill, so help us God. And we will prevent others from killing, so help us God."

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