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5 U.S. Peace Demonstrators Sentenced To Prison

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TACOMA, Washington (AP) — Two priests, a nun and two women in their 60s who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons were sentenced Monday to prison terms ranging from two to 15 months.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle sentenced Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 62, and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, to 15 months in prison, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said.

Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of home monitoring. Sister Anne Montgomery, 84, got two months in prison and four months home monitoring, and social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, got six months in prison and 60 hours of community service.

All five defendants also were given one year of supervised release. They were ordered into custody Monday, Langlie said.

The judge praised the five defendants for their humanitarian work but said he was bound by the law to send a message that legal means must be used to bring about change, the News Tribune reported.

“Indeed, there is no indication of remorse,” Settle said.

A federal jury convicted the five anti-war demonstrators of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property in December. They had faced up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors recommended sentences ranging between six months and 36 months.

Court documents say the group cut through fences on Nov. 2, 2009, to reach an area near where nuclear warheads are stored in bunkers. The protesters put up banners, sprinkled blood on the ground, scattered sunflower seeds and prayed until they were arrested.

The Bangor base, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Seattle on Hood Canal, is home to 10 Ohio-class submarines, eight armed with Trident ballistic missiles and two with conventional weapons.

Prosecutors said in sentencing documents that the five trespassed into a restricted area, destroyed the Navy’s property and placed themselves and others in jeopardy.

About 250 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse before Monday’s sentencing. Some demonstrators carried signs saying, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” according to Seattle radio station KOMO.

Kelly told KOMO before the sentencing that he was prepared to go to prison.

“I think it’s really worth it. I have the solace of my conscience, as I think this is just one little step against nuclear weapons and someday we’ll be free, and maybe not in my lifetime, but I have hope.”

The five defendants said nuclear warheads stored at the base and on submarines there are illegal under international, national and humanitarian law, but a judge prohibited them from using international law and the lethality of nuclear weapons as a defense. The trial hinged on straightforward charges relating to trespassing and property damage.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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