John LaForge Cites Wrongful Convictions for
Protests against US Nuclear Weapons in Germany
Protesting the presence of US nuclear weapons at Büchel AFB
LUCK, Wisconsin (April 25, 2022) — Nuclear disarmament activist John LaForge, of Luck, Wisconsin, on April 25 filed an appeal with Germany’s Constitutional Court against two criminal trespass convictions stemming from protests against the threatened use of the US nuclear weapons stationed at Büchel Air Base, 80 miles southeast of Cologne.
The first action on July 15, 2018, involved eighteen people who gained entry to the base by clipping through the chain link fence on a Sunday morning in broad daylight. Once inside, the group read a statement to base personnel warning them that planning or participating in military attacks using nuclear weapons is a criminal conspiracy to commit massacres.
In the second action, on August 6, 2018, the anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima, LaForge and Susan Crane of Redwood City, Calif., snuck inside the base and climbed atop a bunker which likely houses some of the approximately twenty US hydrogen bombs stationed there.
On appeal, Germany’s Koblenz Regional Court sentenced LaForge to a fine of 600 Euros or 50 days in jail, lowering his penalty from 1500 Euros imposed by the district-level trial court in Cochem, Germany.
The constitutional appeal to Germany’s highest court, in Karlsruhe, argues that two lower courts erred by refusing to consider LaForge’s defense of “crime prevention,” violating his right to present a defense. Both lower courts declined to hear expert witnesses who were called to explain the complex international treaty law that prohibits the planning of mass destruction.
The appeal argues that Germany’s stationing of US nuclear weapons is a criminal violation of the 1970 Nonproliferation Treaty, which forbids transferring nuclear weapons to other countries. The appeal further charges that the US-German-NATO policy of “nuclear deterrence” involves a broad criminal conspiracy to commit vast, disproportionate, and indiscriminate destruction with the US hydrogen bombs.
The US gravity bombs at Büchel are the 170-kiloton B61-3 and the 50-kiloton B61-4, which are eleven times and three times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb which killed 140,000 people. LaForge claims in the complaint that the US weapons can only produce massacres and that attempting to stop their use is not unlawful but a justified act of crime prevention.
LaForge, 66, a long-time co-director of the critical watchdog group Nukewatch, compared his German protests to the work of firefighters. “Trespass is excused when fighting to save lives from a fire,” LaForge said.
“But what about a fire not yet burning, which has been deliberately set to explode with the heat, blast and radiation of a thousand suns? What if this mass fire or ‘arson’ is intended to burn down a city of ten-million people, or twenty cities — one for each of the twenty US H-bombs at Büchel Air Base? This planning of mass destruction is a criminal act under German and US law.”
In Germany, a nationwide campaign — “Büchel Is Everywhere: Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!” — is working for: the ouster of the US weapons; the cancellation of plans to replace the current US weapons with a new B61 beginning in 2024; and for Germany’s ratification of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on January 22, 2021.
US Citizen Files Constitutional Complaint
Peace Activist Sees Rights Violated
after Conviction for Büchel Protests
Deter Junker / Rhein-Zeitung Kreis Cochem-Zell
BÜCHEL/KARLSRUHE (May 2, 2022) — For the first time, a US citizen has filed a constitutional complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe in connection with his conviction for two go-in actions at the air base in Büchel, Germany’s Eifel region. The 66-year-old John LaForge from Wisconsin had twice invaded the airbase in 2018 to protest against the US nuclear weapons stationed there.
In the first action on July 15, 2018, John LaForge was part of a group of 18 people who entered the air base grounds in a protest. In a second action on Hiroshima Remembrance Day on August 6, 2018, the US activist climbed a protected air raid shelter with another anti-nuclear weapons activist from the United States.
The district court of Cochem sentenced the US American to a fine of 1500 euros for trespassing; in the appeal proceedings before the district court of Koblenz, this fine was reduced to 600 euros. John LaForge has now lodged a constitutional complaint against this conviction.
In his opinion, the judges had not taken into account his plea of “crime prevention” and had thus violated a fundamental right of defense. The judges had not taken into account requests to hear experts who were supposed to prove the violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by the stationing of US nuclear weapons in Germany.
Back side of bunker, scaled by Crane and LaForge, which can house up to four of the US B61 nuclear weapons.
John LaForge [has been] co-director of the organization “Nukewatch” for many years. A few days ago, another peace activist who had entered the air base on July 18, 2018, and who has also been sentenced in the meantime with legal effect, had also announced that she would file a constitutional complaint in Karlsruhe.
Since 1997, 14 constitutional complaints have been submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court, but all of them have so far not been admitted by the judges in Karlsruhe. Two plaintiffs have therefore meanwhile also filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.
Note: 14 Constitutional complaints have been filed by peace activists so far. All of them were not admitted [upheld lower court convictions].
Nukewatch, 740A Round Lake Road, Luck, WI 54853. (715) 472-4185. www.nukewatchinfo.org