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Activists Charged with Blockading Israeli-owned Beauty Shop Acquitted in Court
LONDON - August 10 - Four activists charged with aggravated trespass for blockading the Israeli-owned cosmetics shop, Ahava, in Covent Garden, London, in 2009, were today acquitted of all charges against them.
The four -Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis, Jo Crouch and Tahir Alam Hussein, all from London - had locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, closing it down for a day each time in September and December 2009.
They appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, London, this week, and were acquitted this afternoon when the primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava's store manager, refused to attend court to testify, despite courts summons and threats of an arrest warrant.
Activists have held fortnightly demonstrations outside the Covent Garden store throughout 2010, in protest at its complicity in the occupation of Palestinian territory.
The Ahava factory, which uses mud from the Dead Sea to make beauty products, is based in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Palestinian West Bank. It mislabels its products ‘Dead Sea: Israel'.
Sarah Colborne, director of campaigns and operations at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which supports the fortnightly protests, said: ‘Ahava is profiting from Israel's occupation of the West Bank, an occupation which is illegal under international law, while also ensuring the financial survival of the illegal settlement in which it sits.
‘As such, it is the owners of Ahava who should be in court, not just for their role in helping to cement an unlawful occupation, but for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by exploiting the natural resources of an occupied territory for profit.'
Ms Colborne added: ‘We call on all people of conscience to join a mass protest outside Ahava this Saturday to show that no court action will deter us from highlighting Ahava's abuses of international law.'
Ahava has been the subject of worldwide protests, including in the United States, Holland and within Israel itself.