World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


US: Seventeen Sentenced to Prison, Trials Continue

Seventeen Sentenced to Prison as Trials Continue for Human Rights


81-year-old WWII Veteran among 32 Charged in Columbus, Georgia

COLUMBUS, GA – The week after a military jury in Colorado decided not to jail an Army interrogator even after they found him guilty of negligent homicide in the torture and killing of an Iraqi detainee, a federal judge in Columbus, Georgia is sentencing nonviolent activists to months in federal prison. The 32 defendants, ranging in age from 19 to 81, are charged with trespass after peacefully walking onto the Fort Benning military base in protest of a controversial Army training school located there.

Yesterday, Judge G. Mallon Faircloth sentenced 17 human rights advocates, including Delmar Schwaller, an 81-year-old retired World War II Veteran, to between one and six months in prison; thirteen of those individuals were also fined between $500 and $1,000. Trials are expected to continue at least throughout today. Each person faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Those arrested were among 19,000 who gathered in November outside the gates of Fort Benning to demand a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the controversial U.S. Army’s School of the

Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

“I have written hundreds of letters to the editor, met with many U.S. officials, and helped to found three human rights organizations,” said defendant GAIL PHARES, 66, of North Carolina, on the steps of the U.S. Courthouse. “In my 40 years of experience in Latin America, I've witnessed a number of patterns repeated over and over which trace death, torture and suffering back to troops trained in counter-insurgency warfare by the U.S. military, many of whom were trained at the School of the Americas.”

The SOA/ WHINSEC made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place. New research confirms that the school continues to support known human rights abusers.

Despite having been investigated by the United Nations for ordering the shooting of 16 indigenous peasants in El Salvador, Col. Francisco del Cid Diaz returned to SOA/ WHINSEC in 2003.

Judge Faircloth is known for handing down stiff sentences to opponents of the SOA/ WHINSEC. Since protests against the SOA/ WHINSEC began more than a decade ago, 183 people have served a total of over 81 years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school.

The movement to close the SOA/ WHINSEC continues to grow. In 2005, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced HR 1217, a bill to suspend operations at WHINSEC and to investigate the development and use of the “torture manuals.” The bill currently has 123 bipartisan co-sponsors.

“People speaking out for justice and accountability will most likely be sent to prison this week,” said FR. ROY BOURGEOIS, founder of SOA

Watch, “while the SOA and its graduates continue to operate outside a system of real accountability.”

* * * Interviews Available * * *



Anika Cunningham, 26, Bowling Green, Ohio (and $500 fine)


Joanne Cowan, 56, Boulder, Colorado ($500 fine)

Sam Foster, 70, Minneapolis, Minnesota ($500 fine)

Michael Gayman, 26, Davenport, Iowa ($500 fine)

Judith Ruland, 47, Springfield, Massachusetts ($500 fine)

Delmar Schwaller, 81, Appleton, Wisconsin (no fine)


Buddy Bell, 23, Chicago, Illinois ($500 fine)

Fred Brancel, 79, Madison, Wisconsin ($500 fine)

Robert Call, 72, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey (no fine)

Scott Dempsky, 30, Denmark, Wisconsin ($500 fine)

Joe DeRaymond, 55, Freemansburg, Pennsylvania ($500 fine)

Robin Lloyd, 67, Burlington, Vermont ($500 fine)

Donte Smith, 19, Washington, DC ($500 fine)


Fr. Louis Vitale, 73, San Francisco, California (no fine)

Jane Hosking, 37, Luck, Wisconsin ($1,000 fine)

John LaForge, 41, Luck, Wisconsin ($1,000 fine)

SENTENCED TO TIME SERVED (after 70+ days in county jail):

Priscilla Treska, 66, Cleveland, Ohio (no fine)


Charles Carney, 47, Kansas City, Kansas


(listed in order of state)

Sarah Harper, 36, Emeryville, California

Dorothy Parker, 76, Chico, California

Cheryl Sommers, 68, Berkeley, California

David Sylvester, 54, Oakland, California

Ken Crowley, Washington, DC

Fr. Jerome Zawada, 68, Cedar Lake, Indiana

Rita Hohenshell, 81, Des Moines, Iowa

Stephen Clemens, 55, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jamie Walters, 41, Columbia, Missouri

Frank Woolever, 72, Syracuse, New York

Gail Phares, 66, Raleigh, North Carolina

Edward "Naed" Smith, 38, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Sr. Mary Dennis Lentsch, 69, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>


Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news