Nuclear Resister/Torture On Trial: Ft. Huachuca Protest Trial Postponed; Defendant Priests Ordered to Attend Pretrial Hearing Instead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2007
2:10 PM

CONTACT: Nuclear Resister/Torture On Trial 
Jack or Felice Cohen-Joppa
520-323-8697 (office),
520-603-1917 (cell)

 
Ft. Huachuca Protest Trial Postponed; Defendant Priests Ordered to Attend Pretrial Hearing Instead
 

ARIZONA - JUNE 1 - The June 6 trial in U.S. District Court, Tucson, for two Roman Catholic priests arrested at a protest last November at Fort Huachuca has been postponed. Instead, Fr. Louis Vitale and Fr. Stephen Kelly have been ordered to appear at 9 a.m. that same day in U.S. Magistrate Hector Estrada's court for a hearing on pretrial motions.

Supporters of the priests will join them at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, for a brief morning support rally in the courtyard in front of the U.S. District Court, 405 W. Congress St.

It is anticipated that military prosecutor Capt. Evan Simone may reintroduce a motion to have the priests jailed pending trial, for which a new date will be set at the June 6 hearing. The two are charged with federal trespass and an Arizona state charge of failure to comply with a police officer following their attempt to speak with enlisted personnel and deliver a letter denouncing torture and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to Major General Barbara Fast, commander at Fort Huachuca, on November 19, 2006.

On Tuesday, June 5, supporters are invited to join the defendants and others for a Festival of Hope for a future free from the terror and injustice of torture. The Festival of Hope begins at 6 p.m. at St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. 3rd St., Tucson. A potluck meal in Geneva Hall will be followed by a 7 p.m. program in the church sanctuary. Speakers at the Festival of Hope will include torture survivor Orlando Tizon, (Assistant Director, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International), human rights attorney William Quigley (Loyola University, New Orleans), retired U.S. Army Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, and defendants Fr. Louis Vitale and Fr. Stephen Kelly. Music will be provided by San Francisco cultural worker Francisco Herrera and Tucson musician Ted Warmbrand.

The defendants and all of the speakers will be available for media interviews in midtown Tucson on Tuesday afternoon, June 5. Please call 323-8697 for arrangements.

For more information, visit http://TortureOnTrial.org

BIOGRAPHIES:

Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM

With a background in sociology and a focus on the Sociology of Religion and social movements, Louie is a long time social activist. A Franciscan priest who served as the provincial of the California Franciscan Friars from 1979 to 1988, he co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience and its enduring movement to end nuclear testing. He recently completed twelve years as the pastor of St. Boniface Catholic Church in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, California. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 2006, Louie completed a six month sentence for his nonviolent action to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC at Ft. Benning, GA in 2006. He is currently the "Action Advocate" for Pace e Bene and is involved in trying to raise awareness about issues of torture and U.S. involvement in it.

Fr. Stephen Kelly, SJ

Fr. Kelly is a Jesuit priest who worked with the Jesuit Refugee service in Central America for many years. He has spent time in federal prison for nonviolent direct disarmament actions. These "Plowshares" actions have brought him into contact with many in prisons who have suffered under U.S. hegemonic policies. In an attempt to dedicate himself to conversion of nuclear weapons in the Isaiah biblical prophetic vision, he sees a connection between the rationale to torture alleged enemies and the blatant incineration of civilians. In December, 2005, Kelly served as chaplain for Witness Against Torture, a delegation of over two dozen U.S. anti-torture activists who defied the U.S. embargo of Cuba with a peaceful march through that nation to the gates of the Guantanamo Bay naval base and prison camp.

Orlando Tizon

Orlando Tizon was arrested on September 21, 1982 in Davao City, in the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines, during the regime of President Marcos. At that time he was working as a community organizer and educator among the rural poor in the Philippines. During the first three weeks of his imprisonment, the military who arrested him kept him blindfolded and incommunicado in a military camp outside Davao City. He suffered beatings, endless interrogations, mock execution and solitary confinement for more than three months. On April, 1986 after the people power revolution, the Aquino government granted him amnesty and released him from prison. Soon after, he emigrated to the U.S., went for treatment and therapy and attended graduate school, later earning a doctorate in sociology.

His interests lie in the issues concerning torture and political violence, race/ethnic relations, immigrants and refugees and human rights. Presently, he is the Assistant Director of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) in Washington, D.C.

William Quigley

Bill Quigley, lawyer for Fr. Louis Vitale, is a law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans. Bill has been an active public interest lawyer since 1977. He served as counsel with a wide range of public interest organizations concerned with Katrina social justice issues, public housing, voting rights, death penalty, living wage, civil liberties, educational reform, constitutional rights and civil disobedience. Bill teaches in the Law Clinic and teaches courses in Law and Poverty and Catholic Social Teaching and Law. He has served as an advisor on human and civil rights to Human Rights Watch USA, Amnesty International USA, and served as the Chair of the Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has also been an active volunteer lawyer with School of the Americas Watch and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. In 2003, he was named the Pope Paul VI National Teacher of Peace by Pax Christi USA and is the recipient of the 2004 SALT Teaching Award presented by the Society of American Law Teachers.

Ann Wright

Col. Ann Wright (U.S. Army, Ret.) served 29 years in the military and 16 years in the diplomatic corps, including as Deputy Ambassador at four missions. Among her many posts, Ms. Wright reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in December, 2001. She resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. Wright now works full-time as an advocate for peace and human rights, challenging politicians and military leaders in Washington to oppose the occupation of Iraq and the Military Commissions Act. She has traveled the country speaking about and lending support to soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq. In August, 2006, she traveled to Amman, Jordan to talk with Iraqi parliamentarians about their peace plan, and participated in the Close Guantanamo delegation that traveled to Cuba in January, 2007.

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