Coal Train Court Verdict
on Friday 09 Jul 2010
type: News Report
Eighteen people from Bristol and Bath were in court yesterday to answer two charges of obstructing the railway at Ffos-y-Fran open-cast coal mine in Merthyr Tydfil. Seven people who had chained themselves to the track and six who had been acting as support and legal observers all pleaded guilty to Section 36 of the Malicious Damages Act 1861, and not guilty to Section 35 of the same act (the section carrying the infamous life penalty). Five people including a legal obvserer and drivers pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Section 35 was dropped against all 18, crucially acknowledging that this was not a malicious action as originally alleged, and Section 36 was dropped against the 5 who had pleaded not guilty to it and had clearly had nothing to do with the obstruction.
Five of the eighteen walk out of court with no conviction. For the other thirteen, sentencing will be on August 13th at Merthyr Crown Court. There will be no prison sentences, however it appears restraining orders and an £8000 compensation claim are being considered.
Those involved are very grateful for the continued support of friends in Merthyr Tydfil, Bristol, Bath, nationwide and beyond. Hopefully there will be a big turnout for sentencing, when those facing restraining orders will explain for the record why they felt it necessary to blockade a coal train.
This Sunday, Bristol & Bath Rising Tide host an evening at Kebele Social Centre in Easton, recounting train blockades carried out by Bristolians over the past 30 years opposing social injustices from climate chaos to nuclear waste. Film, food and discussion from 6:30pm.