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17 May 2022

Trial of US army veterans accused of trespassing at Shannon Airport nears a conclusion

Shannon Airport

The charges relate to an incident on March 17, 2019

THE TRIAL of two anti-war activists accused of causing criminal damage to the perimeter fence at Shannon Airport and of trespassing there on March 17, 2019 has reached closing stages.

US army veterans Ken Mayers, aged 85, of Monte Alte Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tarak Kauff, aged 80,  of Arnold Drive, Woodstock, New York are charged with causing criminal damage to a perimeter fence at the airport on St Patrick's Day three years ago; trespassing with the intent to commit an offence or unlawfully damage property, and interfering with the operation, safety or management of an airport by entering a runway area and causing it to be closed.

They have both pleaded not guilty, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, to all charges against them.

Both are former members of the United States military who became anti-war activists in the 1960s and are also members of a US-based group, Veterans for Peace.

The prosecution case finished on Wednesday and the two defendants gave evidence in their own defence.

Following closing speeches tomorrow, Judge Patricia Ryan is due to charge the jury in the law before sending it out to begin deliberations.

In their evidence on Wednesday both defendants acknowledged cutting a hole in the fence and walking onto the airport. They said they did so to protest against the United States' military use of Shannon as a stop-over en route to and from areas, many of them in the Middle East, where the military is involved.

They said they also wanted to highlight what they maintained was a breach of Irish neutrality, in which they say the Irish Government is complicit, contrary to the demands of international law.

The men said they wanted to inspect a civilian aircraft contracted to the US military and which was parked at the airport.

Justifying their actions, they told the jury that they were defending international law, and were mandated by God in pursuit of a "higher purpose".

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