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John Hollenhorst ReportingEight anti-war protestors were fined 50 dollars each today for blocking entrances to the federal building in the early days of the War in Iraq.
Four defendants pled no contest. Four others insisted on their right to a trial even though they didn't contest the basic facts. They wanted the court to be another forum for their views and in that regard they succeeded.
The protest four months ago was brief. It blockaded the entrance to the federal building for less than an hour. The protestors' intent was to be arrested. And they got their wish.
Outside federal court they were happy the judge let them express the reasons for their illegal actions.
Patricia Samul, Anti-war Protestor: "I did what I had to do for the love of God and country. Moved by faith and conscience, I had to dissent in the only way left to me."
John Nordquist, Anti-war Protestor: "The bombs that we drop over there in Iraq are breeding the terrorists. How can you fight terrorism with weapons? It's a thought process."
Prosecutors say the protestors were not arrested because of their views but because of their actions.
Bill Nixon, Prosecutor: "We protect vigorously the right to free speech, but this is about breaking the law. And I think that's what makes it important."
Protestor Patrick Diehl wanted to mount a defense that was politically loaded, arguing that the war is illegal under International Law.
Patrick Diehl, Anti-war Protestor: "But I feel that we were deceived by this government. And persisting with this trial is, we partly did it in order to keep the issue in front of people."
But the judge ruled out a defense involving International law.
Bill Nixon, Prosecutor: "We're bound by the laws of the United States of America. And that's the law we enforce."
In the end all eight defendants were ordered to pay 50 dollars each. And they plan to fight on against the war. Meanwhile, another day in court is set for next month involving a separate sit-in at the offices of Congressman Jim Matheson.