British judge drops public disorder charges against Greta Thunberg

London, Feb 2 (EFE) – A London judge on Friday dropped charges of public disorder against Greta Thunberg and other environmental activists ruling that they had been detained under “unlawful” circumstances during an anti-fossil fuel protest.

The 21-year-old Swedish activist and the four other defendants appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for the second day following their involvement in an Oct. 17 protest outside a central London hotel hosting a forum of energy company executives.

Judge John Law said on Friday that the police could have used less restrictive measures, that it hadn’t properly defined where protesters were to move, and that the order to disperse was “so unclear that it was unlawful,” so those who didn’t comply hadn’t committed an offense.

After hearing testimony on Thursday and Friday, the judge decided to drop the charges, saying the activists “committed no crime.”

“It is quite striking to me that there were no witness statements taken from anyone in the hotel, approximately 1,000 people, or from anyone trying to get in,” the judge added.

Thunberg, along with the other activists, had already pleaded not guilty to violating Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

During Friday’s hearing, Rad Chada argued that the police also did not give them enough time to leave the area.

“It is unclear as to what the condition was or what was communicated, and so what the defendants should know or didn’t know, and so the prosecution case fails at this stage,” Chada said.

In contrast, Luke Staton, a lawyer for the prosecution, argued that there was evidence that the defendants were guilty of causing a public disturbance, recalling that the police believed there had been a serious disturbance in the community.

The lawyer said that inside the hotel there were about a thousand people, including guests and delegates of the Energy Forum, who could not leave, and some had to catch flights.

The arrests also came after agents tried other tactics that failed to clear the demonstration, Staton said.

Greenpeace activist Maja Darlington called Friday’s ruling “a victory for the right to protest” in a statement, adding that it is “ridiculous that more and more climate activists are finding themselves in court for peacefully exercising their right to demonstrate” while energy giants profit from selling fossil fuels.

The defendants were fined £2,500 each (about 2,900 euros). EFE


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