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Danish Rebellion Spokesman Convicted in Terror-Liberation
[March 16, 2010]
Denmark’s Rebellion (Oprør) spokesman Patrick Mac Manus was found guilty on March 15in Copenhagen City Court for: “attempting to collect funds” for “terrorist organizations” Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); and for “encouraging [hundreds of organizations] to collect funds” for the same.
Judge Helle Hastrup, however, rendered a mild sentence of six months probation as opposed to 18 months imprisonment asked for by the prosecutor. Court costs of 110,000 Danish kroner (about $20,000) plus 25% tax are to be shared by the defendant and the state. She could have demanded that all court costs be paid by the defendant.
Judge Hastrup’s decision that FARC and PFLP are terrorist organizations was based exclusively on Denmark’s Supreme Court decision one year ago in a similar case against Fighters & Lovers. Those seven solidarity activists had sold t-shirts with FARC and PFLP logos with the objective of sending part of the proceeds to media projects on their behalf. The political police (PET) confiscated all funds and arrested them for supporting terrorism. In 2007, Copenhagen city court found them innocent because it determined that the liberation fighters in Colombia and Palestine were not terrorists. Nevertheless, in 2008, a higher court reversed this decision—finding the liberation groups to be terrorists—and sentenced the activists to jail terms of two to six months. On March 25, 2009, the Supreme Court confirmed the judgment but found the terrorist law 114 to be “unclear” and reduced the sentence to probation.
Judge Hastrup’s verdict was supported by one of the two lay judges while the other did not find sufficient evidence that Mac Manus was guilty as charged.
Although the 700-member Rebellion group has several spokespersons, the police only charged 65 year-old, Irish-born Mac Manus. The city court found him to be the key person, although it admitted that the prosecution had not proven that any funds were actually transferred to the “terrorist organizations”. Rather the judgment was based on what Rebellion’s website purported—that it had collected and sent funds—and on 2000 emails on Mac Manus’ computer confiscated by the police following his arrest.
During the four-day trial, lasting over several months, the prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, admitted that the police had no hard evidence but rested his case on Mac Manus’ own admission that he had donated $4 (20 kroner) at a Rebellion party in August 2004. The prosecutor also read excerpts from wiretapped telephone conversations and from the confiscated emails indicating that Mac Manus was a spokesperson and that he wrote press releases and articles favoring struggles for liberation from the occupation forces of Israel and the repressive governments of Colombia.
Defense attorney Thorkild Hoeyer argued for a finding of innocence based on the fact that the state had no hard evidence of crimes committed by Mac Manus; that the state had no evidence that FARC and PFLP are, in fact, terrorist organizations as defined by international law; that any appeals to collect funds for said organizations were not directed in favor of supporting terror but rather liberation from terror; and that the defendant acted and spoke in satire, challenging the anti-terror law to a public debate, a la Jonathan Swift.
Judge Hastrup disregarded the argument of satire and held with the Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling—regardless of terrorism or other international crimes Israeli and Colombia governments might commit against their own citizens or against the occupied people of Palestine this is irrelevant to Danish anti-terror laws. If non-government liberation organizations commit acts, which result in the death of civilians, then the groups are terrorists by definition of Danish laws from 2002. This places Denmark above United Nations conventions, which judge armed struggles in the context of actual conditions, as Mac Manus wrote in his “8 Theses: The Right to Rebellion”:
“The American Declaration of Independence was written by insurgents against British colonial power in 1776, a declaration of `unalienable rights´–among these the rights `to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness´. And the right to resistance against every regime that violates these rights: `whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…´
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after World War 11, accentuates: `Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.´
“The supplemental protocol of the Geneva Convention, in 1977, legalizes `armed conflicts´ when people are `fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.´”
“These are declarations created through a hard-won history, which Rebellion (Denmark) determinedly will defend.”
Amidst a flurry of flapping union and Horseroed-Stutthof WW11 resistance fighters’ banners, and shouts from scores of supporters outside the court, Mac Manus responded to the court decision.
“This won’t stop me or us. We will continue to seek an end to these terror laws, to their terror wars. Our struggle is worth it regardless of court judgments. We act in the long history of solidarity, supporting those who fight for liberation and self-determination.”
Neither Mac Manus nor Hoeyer could immediately state if they will appeal the decision but chances of winning are less than slim and, as Mac Manus, stated:
“It is not the place of Danish courts to judge the veracity of struggle for liberation in foreign lands, such as Colombia and Palestine. They are incompetent.”
Hoeyer commented on the courts’ admission of “lack of clarity” in Danish anti-terror laws.
“This should mean that the accused in both cases [Rebellion and Fighters & Lovers] should be acquitted. If there is doubt then guilt can not be established. But unlike in United States jurisprudence, this point is vague in Danish law. Civil liberties are not as clear cut here.”
Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen skirted around the crowd of freedom activists, walking alone just as he had earlier entered the courtroom filled with humans united in solidarity.
Patrick Mac Manus took the stand in Copenhagen City Court, December 3, charged with extending and encouraging economic support to “terrorist organisations” Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Mac Manus, 65, born in Ireland and a naturalised citizen in Denmark, is an historian and poet, who has been one of four spokespersons for the Rebellion Association (Oprør) since shortly after its founding in the spring 2004. He was arrested on August 9, 2005 after Rebellion had publicly declared that it had collected donations for FARC and PFLP and transferred the equivalent of 8000 Euros to each “democratic, secular and humanitarian” armed group fighting for liberation of its people. A photo of four brown-skinned men in military uniforms, two of them wearing t-shirts with Oprør printed on them, holding a supermarket (Irma) plastic bag stuffed with currency bills, was released on October 17, 2004.
Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen presented evidence confiscated from Mac Manus’ computer (internal organisation emails) and wiretapped telephone conversations, in which Mac Manus allegedly says funds were collected and a meeting was held with a Colombian.
The defence contends that Rebellion, and Mac Manus, acted out a political stunt to provoke a debate about the terror law. Mac Manus asserted that the disputed photo was a manipulation, using political satire. The prosecution admitted that the police could not determine if the photo was, in fact, a manipulation, and there are no bank records of any transferral of funds.
Denmark’s terror law, fashioned after George Bush’s Patriotic Act of 2002, makes it punishable with up to life imprisonment for conducting acts aimed at “terrifying a population… or to destroy a country’s or an international organisation’s fundamental policies, constitution, economy or societal structure” (paragraph 114a). Providing economic support for such actions or groups designated as terrorist is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Since the trial is taking place in a city court, the maximum punishment can be no more than one year jail time.
The prosecutor claims that Denmark’s law is what counts here and not international law. Mac Manus asserts that Danish law must be consistent with United Nations binding declarations that recognize the rights of people to take up arms when all other means are exhausted. He recently wrote: “9 Theses: The Right to Rebellion,” in which he cites the supplemental protocol of the Geneva Convention, in 1977, which legalizes “armed conflicts” when people are “fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.”
The trial against Mac Manus, one of more than 100 members of Rebellion (Denmark) who signed that they had defied the Danish terror law, continues on December 7, January 8 and 15.
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