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News ::
SOA Trial Update: 23 of 43 Human Rights Advocates Adjudicated (english)
28 Jan 2003
Defendants Aim to Expose Double Standard in War on Terrorism, Put SOA and US Foreign Policy on Trial
Columbus, GA - As the Bush Administration seeks to expand the “war on terrorism,” 43 human rights advocates from across the country are on trial in federal court this week exposing what they call a terrorist training camp on U.S. soil – the School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHISC). The defendants were among 10,000 who gathered in November to call for the closure of the SOA/WHISC, a controversial combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Graduates of the school continue to be implicated in egregious acts designed to terrorize and coerce civilian populations throughout Latin America.

“Human rights abuses are being overlooked when it’s convenient in the ‘war on terror,” said Sr. Dorothy Pagosa of Chicago. “We’re here to shine a light on a terrorist training camp that’s operating with impunity in our backyard.” Pagosa is one of six Catholic nuns who face trial.

The defendants peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the school. Thirty-five other defendants are scheduled to start trial on February 10.

Yesterday - the first day of trials - ended with 23 of 43 defendants being adjudicated by Judge G. Mallon Faircloth. Faircloth is known from previous years for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC. A total of 17 defendants pled “guilty,” and six pled “not-guilty” while stipulating to the facts put forward by the prosecutor. Faircloth adjudicated defendants in groups of six, and the defendants were not allowed into the courtroom unless they were the six on trial. Near the end of the day, federal marshals cleared almost half the courtroom when people stood to offer words of encouragement to defendants being taken into custody.

The trial began with four students from The University of San Francisco. The President of the University, Steve Privett, testified on their behalf (“The defendants are not criminals but people of conscience”).

The defendants who were adjudicated yesterday are listed below with their sentences, starting with those who pled guilty.

1. Linda Aguilar (San Francisco, CA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

2. Margaret Rossi (San Francisco, CA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

3. Guadalupe Chavez (San Francisco, CA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

4. Sondra Angulo (San Francisco, CA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

5. Loring Harkness IV (Northfield, MN) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

6. Dave Depp (Doswell, VA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

7. William Combs (Tallahassee, FL) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report)

8. Eric Zibbel (Oberlin, OH) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

9. Seth Cohen (Fair Oaks, CA) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

10. Daniel Marx (Northfield, MN) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

11.Timothy Grivois (Chicago, IL) - 12 months probation, 250 hours community service, $500 fine

12. Philip D'Onofrio (Salem, OR) - 3 months in federal prison (self-report)
- “Thank you judge. These harsh sentences will only make our movement stronger.”

13. Sr. Mary Hamilton (Rosemont, PA) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report)

14. Katherine Bjorkman (Burlington, WI) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report)
- “My heart, mind and soul have commanded me to act out in opposition to the great injustice that continues each day that this school—no matter what one calls it—exists.”

15. Marvin Warren (Poughkeepsie, NY) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report)

16. Derrlyn Tom (repeat line-crosser)(San Francisco, CA) – 6 months in federal prison (self-report)

17. Thomas Cleary (repeat line-crosser)(Richmond, VA) – 6 months in home confinement

Begin not-guilty pleas

18. Katherine Brown (Providence, RI) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report), $500 fine

19. Edith (Toni) Balot (Jefferson, LA) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report)
- “Foreign Aid must no longer be used to train Latin Americans in terrorism and torture, murder and rape, in order to keep their own people oppressed.”

20. Jesse Carr (Oberlin, OH) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report), $500 fine
- “In crossing the line I upheld the law of humanity and justice.”

21. Eloy Garcia (Maryknoll, NY) – 3 months in federal prison (reported immediately), $500 fine
- “It needs to be understood that a nation built on laws can still perpetuate injustice.”

22. Marie Salupo (Maryknoll, NY) – 3 months in federal prison (self-report), $500 fine

23. Scott Schaeffer-Duffy (Worcester, MA) – 3 months in federal prison (reported immediately)

Background:

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution. In a new report Amnesty International calls for a suspension of training at the SOA/WHISC, and an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the school. Amnesty refutes the claim that the WHISC is a new institution, stating that WHISC "is essentially the same school as SOA, with the same primary mission…”

“The SOA is out of alignment with both the interests and values of the American people,” said Dan Fortson, a veteran from Redway, CA, one of the 80, “We’re here to say ‘Not in our name!’”

# # #
See also:
http://www.soaw.org
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