Turi Vaccaro: Ploughshares activist in prison in the Netherlands
Turi is free!
Since 17th February, Turi Vaccaro (who has been in prison since August 2005,
following the disarmament of 2 nuclear capable F16 jets in the Netherlands), is
On his official release date (6th February) there was an attempt to deport him
from the Netherlands to Italy, but as another refugee made difficulties on the flight,
the pilot refused to carry either of them. It is unclear why Turi had to wait
for 10 days before another attempt at the deportation. Turi had to spend more
time in isolation.
Yesterday evening Turi was in Milan.
It is not clear what his plans are, but he will probably spend at some time in
Turi's appeal will be heard on 16th March at 9:30am, at the court of Den Bosch,
directly behind the NS (train) station. This seems to be a good time to
celebrate Turi's release,
Translation of the Turi Vaccaro support group newsletter, December 2005.
Turi is to appeal
Turi’s court case is over. The judgement (which came on 27th October) was a prison sentence of 6 months, and a demand to immediately pay 750,000 Euro towards the cost of the damage that was done. If Turi is not able to pay this, he will need to spend a further year in prison, after which time this claim will still be outstanding. Turi has decided to appeal against this judgement.
Turi is still officially on remand, due to the pending appeal. The hope is that if there is not a definitive judgement within 6 months, this remand will not be extended, and Turi will be set free at the start of February. There is the possibility that he will still need to spend a year in prison at a later date. There is as yet no date set for the appeal hearing. A request has also been made to the court to lift the remand, and to release Turi as soon as possible
Update: 27th October
Verdict in Plougshares trial
Breda, 27th October 2005 - 52 year old Ploughshare activist Turi Vaccaro was sentenced to six months in prison this morning by the police judge in Breda, Holland. He has also been ordered to pay 750,000 euro damages to the Ministry of Defence; and if he does not pay this amount it will be converted to another 360 days in prison. His lawyer, Meindert Stelling, is considering an appeal.
On 10th August Vaccaro disarmed two F-16 planes at Woensdrecht airbase, as a protest against the illegal storage of nuclear weapons at the nearby volkel airbase and as a comemoration of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago.
Both Turi Vaccaro and his lawyer Meindert Stelling are shocked that the judge did not take the strong motivation of the ploughshares activist into account in reaching the judgement. Turi wished to use his action to denounce the illegality and immorality of the weapons of mass destruction. They are considering appealing against the verdict to a higher court.
Turi Vaccaro has started a fast in Breda prison where he is being held. In italy, where Vaccaro played an active role in the peace movement, many people are joining a fasting relay, for peace and disarmament, and in solidarity with the peace activist.
Update: 13th October
BREDA, 13th October 2005 (Ravage) - Six months with a reduction for the time already spent on remand and 1 million euro in damages to be paid immediately. These are the demands of the prosecutor in Breda police court, where 54 year old Turi Vaccaro is facing trial after disarming two F-16's at Woensdrecht Airbase in the Netherlands.
This demand brought applause from Turi, who also called on the prosecutor to increase the sentence to a whole year "The time I'm spending in prison at the moment is the best in my life. I have space and time to meditate and I would like to thank the Dutch government for this".
At the same time, Turi has complained that he is often placed in isolation in the prison in Breda. "I shouldn't have to suffer in my struggle for peace". The prison guards continue to offer him food although Turi is fasting, and has sufficient water.
The court hearing on 13th October is already the fourth hearing in this case. Lawyer Meindert Stelling made two complaints during the first hearing on 1st September against the suitability of the judge. The reason was the failure of the Public Prosecution Service (OM) to investigate the criminal behaviour of the state, and only concentrate on the behaviour of Turi on the airbase.
After evidence from Susan van der Heijden on the Ploughshares movement, the public prosecutor made a statement against the clowning behaviour of Turi during the court case. "Is he a simpleton who was a sacrifice from the movement, someone who sings song (at which point Turi shouted "Hallelujah!") and lies on the floor of the court when he feels like it?"
The long submissions of Stelling and his use of the complaint procedure also surprised the prosecutor. He accused Stelling of trying to prolong the case: "You should realise that defending someone in court is the wrong place to expound your political arguments. Stop it at once!"
Stelling, clearly in his element, then embarked on a submission that lasted almost three hours...! "The Public Prosecution Service is making a charicature of activists, in order to obscure the context of their actions" Stelling stated. During this exhaustive statement, which demanded a large amount of attention from everyone in the court, the public prosecutor seemed to be getting provoked, drumming with his fingers on the table. He was not seen to take any sedatives.
Just as during the first hearing in the case, Stelling criticised the role of the state, which was involved in "mass murder, prepared by a criminal organisation, to which the Public Prosecution Service belong". According to Stelling, his client's action in disarming two F16s prevented a greater crime. "He has done hisduty as a citizen, and desrves to be acquitted."
In the closing statement, Turi again told how he acquired the hammer that he used to destroy the cockpits of the F16s. The holy St. Francis of Assisi is his great hero, and Mahatma Gandhi was also named a couple of times during the statement, although Turi said he couldn't understand why Gandhi was opposed to sabotage. On his way out of the court, Turi stood once more on his head. The court is expected to give a verdict on 27th October.
Update: 8th September
The second "wraking" (a procedure where the judge is accused of being prejudiced), was held on Wednesday this week, but was rejected.
The disturbing decision was also made that this "wraking" procedure can not be used again by the defence in this case.
The trial will continue at 1:30pm on Thursday 13th October, in the court in Breda, Netherlands.
If you can't make it to the trial, please write to Turi:
HvB De Boschpoort
4811 DG Breda
Update: 3rd September
He's in Jail for Us, We're on the Streets for Him! - based on the report by Susan Van Der Hijden
Turi Vaccoro has maintained a hunger strike in custody since August 10th
He appeared in court Sept 1st. charged with several €million disarmament of nuclear capable F16's.
The courtcase against Turi Vaccaro did not reach a verdict last thursday. The judge was accused twice by the defence of being prejudiced in favor of the prosecution. The second accusation will be dealt with in court next week. Turi, who did not speak, but he let the audiance of about 25 people know that he was doing well.
Turi had to appear before the policejudge because of the disarming of two F-16 airplaines at airforcebase Woensdrecht in the Netherlands on 10th August. His action has made it impossible to use these planes to drop nuclear weapons (like the ones lying in Volkel in the Netherlands). The estimated costs for restoring this ability are 5.000.000 euro's.
Turi's lawyers (Eric Hummels, quaker, and Meindert Stelling, former airforce officer) started the courtcase by stating that the charges of the prosecution should be found unacceptable because they had not taken the context of the action in consideration.
As an example he said if witnesses see someone cut another mans throat that last person could be sued for murder if the context is not considered. If however the defendent gets the oppertunity to explain that he was doing a live saving trachiometry (making a hole in a suffocating persons throat in order to make him breath) the charges would have to be dropped.
By disarming F-16 airplanes serious crimes against international justice were prevented. By doing so Turi performed the duty each of us have to prevent such crimes. Because the prosecution did not consider the fact that the Dutch government is involved in commiting crimes against international law through having nuclear weapons in its country and training Dutch pilots to use them the charges should be found unreasonable and be dropped.
The prosecution did not want to answer this statement and simply said that international law did not have a place in this (lower) court. Turi's lawyers demanded the judge would force the prosecution to give a better answer than that and when the judge refused he was then called a "wraking", a Dutch legal term for accusing the judge of being partial.
After this 3 other judges were called together to see if the defence had a valid point here. They did not think so and after some more delay the case was restarted.
Now the defence asked the judge to put in writing his reason for not accepting the complaints of the defence. The judge refused to do so and said he did not want to talk about the complaint at all any more.
At this point the defence lawyer again called a "wraking". This will again be tested by three other judges somewhere next week.
Turi was brought back to prison in Breda.
HvB de Boschpoort
4811 DG Breda
Press Release: 15th August 2005
Quick-trial for peace activist after disabling two F-16s
At 10:50 am, on 1st September, peace activist Turi Vaccaro will appear before the court in Breda.
In commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 60 years ago, Turi disabled two F-16 bombers on Woensdrecht airbase. The damage runs into millions of Euros.
The action was a ploughshares action, based on the bibical prophesy of Isiah “And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and learn war no more”. Turi Vaccaro brought the hammer used in the action from Assisi. St Francis of Assisi inspired him to live a very sober life, with respect for people and the environment. For this reason, the action was carried out very carefully, to ensure that no-one felt threatened.
On the Volkel airbase, 20 nuclear weapons are stored, each of which has a power 14 times the Hiroshima bomb. The F16s that are regularly brought to Woensdrecht for maintenance have the task of carrying and dropping nuclear weapons. Atomic weapons are weapons of mass destruction, and in contravention of international law. Turi Vaccaro is concerend about the future of his daughter and all other children on the planet, and with this disarmament action he has shown this with more strength than he could have using words.
End press release
Press Release 18th August 2005
Turi Vaccaro on hunger strike since 10th August
Turi Vaccaro, the peace activist who was arrested on 10th August for disarming two F16s at Woensdrecht Airbase, has been on hunger strike since that time. This is not to achieve anything for himself, but in solidarity with the millions of victims of militarism.
Turi has previously held several fasting actions, including a fast at Comiso (Sicily, Italy) in 1982. His fast lasted on that occasion for 35 days, in an attempt to persuade the Pope to make a statement against the placing of new nuclear weapons in Europe.
At the moment, Turi is in "medical isolation" as a result of his refusal to allow x-rays to be taken. This means that he is not able to receive visits, and has not been able to meet with his lawyer. This is especially worrying, as his lawyer has recently taken over the case due to knowledge of international law as it relates to nuclear weapons, and has not yet been able to speak with Turi.
It has also been announced that the court case will take place at 1:25pm and NOT at 10:50am, as previously announced.
Support Group Turi Vaccaro
More info: +31(0)6-20112411
Financieal support for Turi: bankreknr. 907288952 in the name of "G. Doeven te Deventer", mention "ondersteuning Turi"
Newsletter about the Ploughshares action at the airbase of Woensdrecht (Netherlands)
In many newspapers, a small article has appeared about a 52 year old man who destroyed 2 F-16s at Woensdrecht airbase on 10th August.
Now, after a few days, is there a bit more clarity, but there are still many questions. With this newsletter, we want to inform so many people about what is now known, because he must appear before the court soon.
On 1st September, peace activist Turi Vaccaro must appear before the court in Breda. The action was a ploughshares action, based on the biblical prophesy of Isiah, “And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and learn war no more”.
The hammer with which the equipment was beaten was brought specially from Assisi, the birth place of St Francis, who has inspired many peace actions. The F-16s at Woensdrecht were being prepared for their war fighting tasks, including dropping the nuclear weapons based at Volkel airbase. There are currently 20 nuclear weapons at Volkel, each with a power 14 times the Hiroshima bomb.
Turi Vaccaro is concerned about the future of his daughter, and all the children on earth, and with this disarmament action he has shown this with more strength than he could have using words.
For support of this ploughshares action, we would like to be present at the court with as many people as possible. It is also always nice to receive post if you are being held.
ADDRESS OF PLOUGHSHARES ACTIVIST TURI VACCARO
HvB De Boschpoort
4811 DG Breda
Article from BN/DeStem on 12th August 2005
Destruction of F16s as protest against Nagasaki
By Cyril Rosman: Friday 12th August 2005 - HOOGERHEIDE –
The destruction of two F16s at the Woensdrecht airbase in Hoogerheide were carried out by a 52 year old peace activist from Italy. He wanted to make a statement the man (activist name: Tury) carried out his action a day after the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
“At Woensdrecht, F16s are repaired, airplanes that can be used to carry nuclear weapons. And in any case, every F16 is one too many” said Niek van Essen from Woensdrecht. Van Essen was, in the 1980s involved in setting up the Stichting Atoom Vrijstaat [Nuclear Free State foundation] in Woensdrecht, a foundation that protested against the alleged presence of nuclear weapons on the base. He still lives in the house that was a meeting point for activists. Van Essen is well informed about the activist world.
On Wednesday morning, ‘Tury’ went to work on the two F16s in a hangar on the base. The damage could run into the millions. The man was caught, arrested by the police and will probably appear before the court today. Tury is originally from Italy, but has travelled for years through Europe. “He sees himself as a world citizen” said Van Essen. “Tury stayed for some time in the Netherlands, but he didn’t have a fixed address.”
That is at least what Van Essen has understood from his sources. “Because he was never at our house. This action was his own idea, he didn’t publicise this action or give a statement”
That last bit fits. Huib van der Hout, from Bergen op Zoom, the lawyer of Tury, has not yet spoken with his client. “He didn’t want that yet. I don’t have any idea how he entered the base. The questions naturally interest you: how is it possible that someone can just walk into a hangar.?”
The ministry of Defence didn’t want to say anything about this. “The air force is currently investigating the security of the airbase”, said the spokesperson for the police Mascha Gelauf. Van Essen: “The perimieter of the base is 17km. The question that I have is: how effectively are the hangars closed?”
The air force is also not commenting on the scale of the damage. The police have confirmed that this involves someone without a Dutch passport, but who has stayed some time in Holland.
Activist also destroyed the inside of F16s
By Cyril Rosman
Saturday 13 August 2005 - HOOGERHEIDE – The 52 year old Italian peace activist who damaged two F16s at Woensdrecht airbase on Wednesday, also appears to have destroyed the instrument panels in the aircraft.
The man, S.V., knew his way around the base from an old map that he got while doing actions together with Kees Koning. V. climbed over the fence of the base on Wednesday morning. In a hangar, he did millions of euros worth of damage to two F16s. One of the planes will possible need the whole steering system to be replaced.
The air force is still investigating how the man could enter the hangar. “He had an old map of the base. He was here with Kees Koning once for an action. He waited outside the fence on that occasion.“, said his lawyer Huib van der Hout.
The Italian, who has spent several years in Holland, beat on the F16s as a statement against nuclear weapons. One day before his action was the 60th anniversary of the destruction of Nagasaki by an American nuclear weapon.
The rechter-commissaris decide yesterday that S.V. should spend 14 more days in custody. Because the man was caught in the act, and has admitted everything, the legal investogation is already completed. He will appear before the police court on 1st September.