Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Animal Rights Activists Jailed

Posted by Elie Dolgin [Entry posted at 21st January 2009 02:58 PM GMT] []Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies that supplied Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing laboratory based in the UK, were sentenced today (Jan. 21) to between four and 11 years in prison. From 2001 to 2007, members of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) group used inflammatory graffiti, false allegations of pedophilia, and bomb hoaxes to intimidate managers and staff with links to the Cambridge-based company. Last month, the seven activists -- who were described by the sentencing judge as "urban terrorists" -- were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail. Heather Nicholson, 41, a founding member of SHAC, was sentenced today to 11 years in prison, while co-founders Gregg and Natasha Avery, 41 and 39 respectively, each received nine-year sentences. Four other leading members of SHAC were handed jail terms of between four and eight years. Another defendant, Trevor Holmes, 51, was cleared of the charges. While passing the sentence, Judge Neil Butterfield described the campaign as a "relentless, sustained and merciless persecution" that had made the victims lives "a living hell," according to the BBC. "I expect you will be seen by some as martyrs for a noble cause but that would be misplaced," Butterfield told the defendants. "You are not going to prison for expressing your beliefs, you are going to prison because you have committed a serious criminal offence."

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