The spray-painting of anti-war graffiti on a US Hercules aircraft at Shannon airport last September was an act of disarmament and was entirely justifiable, a district court was told yesterday.
A DCU student, Mr Eoin Dubsky (22) made the claim at Tulla District Court, where he succeeded in having one charge of entering the airside at Shannon and climbing the airport's perimeter fence dismissed.
Judge Joseph Mangan directed that the charge be dismissed after ruling that the prosecution offered no evidence that he had climbed the perimeter fence to get inside the airfield.
However, Mr Dubsky faced a second charge of criminal damage without lawful excuse of the US military aircraft.
The court heard that at around 4.40 a.m. on September 4th, Aer Rianta Duty Airport manager Mr John Fielding received a call from Mr Dubsky, telling him that he had just spray-painted a peace symbol on the Hercules aircraft and was waiting to be picked up.
Mr Fielding told the court that when he arrived at the scene, he found Mr Dubsky standing beside the aircraft with his hands in the air and a spray can on the ground beside him.
In evidence yesterday Mr Dubsky, Whitewalls, Ballymoney, Gorey, Co Wexford, told the court that he spray-painted the US military aircraft "because it belongs to a belligerent state involved in carrying out acts of aggression against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan".
At yesterday's court hearing - which lasted for six hours and heard 17 witnesses - Mr Dubsky claimed that he had lawful excuse to carry out the act of spray-painting the aircraft - which was on its way from Greece to Newfoundland, Canada - and therefore could not be convicted of the charge of criminal damage without lawful excuse.
Mr Dubsky told the court: "There is no telling what was on that aircraft or any other US military aircraft.
"The gardaí and airport authorities told the court today that they don't carry out any inspection of what is on board."
He added: "By spray-painting the aircraft, I disrupted the ongoing criminal activities at Shannon and the illegal US military operations in Iraq and I am confident that what I did is justifiable and excusable.
"It was a reasonable thing to do and I was holding to account what is happening at the airport."
Insp Tom Kennedy told the court that Mr Dubsky had abandoned the democratic and civil process to carry out the criminal act. This was rejected by Mr Dubsky.
In support of Mr Dubsky two women, one an Iraqi citizen, gave evidence of the effects of US bombing on Iraq. Dr Manor Hassan Rubaie, an Iraqi medical doctor, told the court: "The health conditions are very bad, especially with the various types of cancers that have been brought about by US bombing over the last decade."
In a submission to court on behalf of Mr Dubsky, solicitor Mr Paul O'Shea stated that Mr Dubsky had lawful excuse to carry out his actions.
He claimed it is unconstitutional that Shannon is being used by US aircraft without Dáil consent and further claimed that some 1,000 US military aircraft landed at Shannon in the past 12 months.
He said: "Each and every one of the landings are crimes under international law."
Mr O'Shea went on to state that his client believes that the US landings are international crimes and are putting the people of Ireland and Iraq at risk. He said: "He felt that he had to take some action to stop these major crimes being committed."
After hearing the evidence, Judge Mangan adjourned the case to Shannon District Court on January 9th.