Peace protesters celebrate after court victory over arms industry conference arrests
Peace activists arrested at an arms industry conference say they're happy after charges against them were dropped.
The members of Peace Action Wellington voiced displeasure at police for the arrests, and the court process which has continued since the late 2015 arms industry conference.
"It's been really stressful and draining," Emma Cullen said outside Wellington District Court on Thursday. "It's been 15 months we've been waiting."
The group faced a range of charges, mostly for trespassing.
About 150 protesters gathered outside the New Zealand Defence Industry Association annual forum at the TSB Arena in November 2015.
Wellington City councillor Iona Pannett joined the protesters.
On Thursday, Cullen and her friends said they would do the same thing again.
"The real people on the day that were the criminals were the people in the building, trying to sell weapons and make money to profit from war. So we're not going to stop," Cullen said.
She said activists were pursuing reimbursement for the legal costs they'd accrued.
The group said all the police charges fell over, either for lack of evidence, or because the group weren't actually trespassing.
"[It was] public land, which we knew at the time," one said.
Sean Blair said he'd expected the charges to be dropped when he entered court on Thursday.
Police confirmed the protesters had made an application for costs.
A spokeswoman said "until that matter is heard police are not in a position to make any comment" on the case.
The Defence Industry Association described itself as "New Zealand industry's principle conduit" to the Defence Force.
It said its main focus was on helping members understand and support the Crown's defence procurement programme.