The trial of Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg and four others for refusing to end an oil protest outside a London industry summit last year began on Thursday, where the court heard testimony of her refusal to comply with Metropolitan Police orders.
Thunberg, 21, was arrested in October last year while protesting outside the InterContinental Hotel in central London during a summit attended by global oil executives. She and her colleagues have been charged with “failing to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act”.
The larger protests outside the London hotel were organized by Fossil Free London and Greenpeace, targeting the Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF).
Critics had referred to the Oil and Money conference as the “oily money conference”, which featured executives of Saudi Aramco, Spanish Repsol, Shell and TotalEnergies, among others.
On Thursday, police testified to the Westminster Magistrates' Court that Thunberg was issued a final warning by police officers to vacate the premises, which she refused.
The trial is by judge without a jury and it is estimated that it will last for two days until judgment, with each defendant facing a maximum fine of 2,500 pounds (around $3,160).
Police argue that conditions had been imposed on the protest under Section 14 of the Public Order Act in order to “prevent serious disruption to the community, hotel and guests”, as reported by The Independent.
The prosecutor said the Crown’s case was that “all five of these defendants took part in a public assembly” despite being aware that a Section 14 condition had been imposed.
Police Commander Matthew Cox told the court that the situation outside the conference had been a “rapidly evolving” one, and he had been prompted to call for a “force mobilisation as it “looked as a deliberate attempt to stop people coming into and coming out of the hotel”.
“It was a slow build but essentially the delegates were not able to get in or out of the hotel. It was relayed to me on a number of occasions by [hotel] security that guests were unable to get out as well. Essentially, people were really restricted on how they could access the hotel,” Cox said, as reported by the Guardian.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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