Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2021-2022
On Oct. 12, 2021 Sigrid Eckert-Hoßbach, Jürgen “Hops” Hoßbach, Frits ter Kuile, and Johanna Adickes were on trial in Koblenz, Germany charged with trespassing and damage to a fence during an 18-person go-in protest at the Büchel air base in July 2018. The base is the staging ground for 20 US hydrogen bombs, called B61s, kept ready for German Tornado fighter jets to use in attacks against Russia.
The four nuclear weapons resisters had asked the regional court judge to allow expert witnesses to testify about the status of the nuclear weapons under international treaties, and about the risk of accidental nuclear attacks. The senior public prosecutor in the case objected in writing, claiming that even if the “policy” of stationing US H-bombs in Germany was a violation of international law, the request for experts should be rejected “due to the insignificance of the evidentiary fact.”
In a September 21 filing, the prosecutor wrote, “The fact that … the nuclear weapons policy of the German government is contrary to international law can be assumed to be true.”
This written acknowledgement by a federal prosecutor of the validity of the resisters’ foremost complaint about Germany’s “nuclear sharing” came as a shocking surprise. But the letter went on to claim, without legal analysis, that a justification defense based on international law “cannot be derived from this.”
Expert testimony was excluded from the trial and the four defendants were found guilty.
This Dec. 9, Nukewatch staffer John LaForge will be in the same courtroom on similar charges and has also asked the court to hear expert testimony. Although unlikely to be allowed, Dr. Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois Law School has agreed to testify. He wrote to Nukewatch October 28 that, nuclear weapons resisters have no “criminal intent” — an element the government has to prove. “My testimony will show that planning and preparation of nuclear attacks is ongoing criminal activity under international law. You have no culpability here because you were acting to prevent the ongoing commission of international crimes,” Prof. Boyle wrote.