Protesters guilty of vandalizing Army school sign
March 4, 1998
Web posted at: 7:43 p.m. EST (0043 GMT)
COLUMBUS, Georgia (Reuters) -- A jury Wednesday convicted five demonstrators, including a nun and a Jesuit priest of vandalizing an entrance sign at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, which trains police and soldiers for Latin America.
Students at the school at Fort Benning, near Columbus,
have included Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega and
reputed Salvadoran death squad organizer Roberto D'Aubuisson.
The protesters were found guilty of willfully and
maliciously using crowbars to pry letters off the sign and
painting slogans such as "SO - TORTURE" and "School of
shame" on the sign.
The protesters, three of whom represented themselves, said
they were acting "to speak out for those who cannot speak,"
meaning the victims of human rights abuses committed by
police and soldiers who graduated from the school.
Jurors took less than an hour to convict four of the five on two counts each of destruction of government property. The fifth defendant, William Bichsel, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma, Washington, was found guilty on one of the two counts.
U.S. District Judge Robert Elliott said he would sentence
the five at a later date. They could each be given six years in prison and fined more than $250,000.
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