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Crime Regional & National

Judge denies new trial for Tenn. nuke protesters

October 3rd, 2013 2:17 pm by Associated Press

Judge denies new trial for Tenn. nuke protesters

KNOXVILLE — A judge has denied a new trial for a nun and two other protesters who broke into a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar also ruled this week against a motion to acquit the three.

The defendants —Sister Megan Rice and protesters Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed (bohr-CHEE' OH-bed') — were convicted in May of sabotaging the plant and damaging federal property last year at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 28 in Knoxville and face up to 30 years in prison.

They remain in federal custody.

In his ruling Tuesday, Thapar concluded, "The defendants are entitled to their views regarding the morality of nuclear weapons. But the defendants' sincerely held moral beliefs are not a get-out-of-jail-free card that they can deploy to escape criminal liability."

He also commented on the controversy around maintaining a nuclear arsenal.

"Reasonable people can disagree about the propriety of that decision. But such disagreement, even if inspired by deeply held moral views, must be constrained by a respect for the law," he wrote.

Numerous letters have been sent to Thapar asking for leniency when the three are sentenced and objecting to the government's labeling of pacifists as terrorists.

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