HAMBURG – A long-time U.S. peace activist will be tried on two charges of trespassing on Thurs., December 9 in Koblenz Regional Court, Germany on charges stemming from two 2018 protests against US nuclear weapons stationed at Büchel air force base, located in southeastern Germany.
The Koblenz hearing for John LaForge, 65, of Luck, Wisconsin, is an appeal of two May 31, 2021 trespass convictions in Cochem District Court for so-called “go-in” protest actions involving entry into the base during protests on July 15, 2018 and August 6, 2018.
LaForge, a co-director of the nuclear watchdog organization Nukewatch (nukewatchinfo.org) in Wisconsin, helped coordinate delegations of U.S. peace activists to three annual international protests at the nuclear weapons base in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The German base maintains at least 20 US thermonuclear gravity bombs, known as B61-3s and B61-4s, under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron and the controversial US/NATO program called “nuclear sharing.” Protesters have targeted the site for over 25 years demanding the ouster of the US H-bombs and a halt to their planned replacement.
LaForge has asked the court in Koblenz to hear testimony from three expert witnesses regarding the legal status of the nuclear weapons. If allowed by the court, retired Judge Bernd Hahnfeld, a former board chair of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, would testify regarding the illegality of stationing foreign nuclear weapons in Germany; University of Trier Prof. of Computer Science Karl-Hans Bläsius on the risk of accidental nuclear war; and Univ. of Illinois Professor of Law Francis A. Boyle on his 2002 book, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence.
The legal scholars say the stationing of US nuclear bombs in Germany violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) among others. The NPT prohibits any transfer of nuclear weapons to, or any reception of them from, other countries; and Germany’s reunification treaty, or Final Settlement Treaty, of 1990 renounced the possession of nuclear weapons.
“I participated in these actions because they are the only way to have the outlaw status of nuclear weapons considered by the courts. The public wants these bombs out of Germany. But nuclear weapons’ controllers are anti-democratic and they need a court of law to order them ousted,” LaForge said.
Marion Kuepker of Hamburg, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (www.gaaa.org), reports, “In the last two years, about 50 court cases involving dozens of nuclear weapons protesters have taken place in Cochem and Koblenz for nonviolent civil disobedience actions at the Büchel air base.”