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.
Before Mac Manus could be tried, he fell seriously ill. Then, in early 2007 seven anti-terror law activists (Fighters & Lovers) were arrested for selling t-shirts with the objective of financing media projects in Colombian territory, which FARC controls, and for PFLP.
The first trial against Fighters & Lovers, held in Copenhagen City Court, resulted in a non-guilty verdict. The three judges rejected the prosecution’s case that FARC and PFLP were terrorists, seen within the context of a legitimate fight against oppressive regimes in Colombia, which do not rule by law, and a warring Israel illegally occupying Palestinian land. However, on appeal to first the High Court and then the Supreme Court, the fundamental defence argument of judging within the “context” of forces at war was rejected. The higher courts found FARC and PFLP to be terrorists and thus five defendants were guilty of supporting terrorists. They were sentenced to from two to six months in jail, but sentence was suspended.
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. A verdict is expected on February 8, 2010.