U.S. Veterans Finally Allowed to Return from Ireland

After being held for more than eight months in Ireland, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers finally returned to the United States Dec. 3 and 4 respectively. They were arrested March 17 for going onto the airfield at Shannon Airport to protest illegal U.S. military flights through the airport on their way to wars in the Middle East. The flights violate Irish neutrality and make the country complicit in the ongoing illegal occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

The Irish prosecutors had argued that Kauff and Mayers were a flight risk, despite the fact that the two were committed to return for their trial, and their passports had been confiscated as part of their bail conditions. On Nov. 8, their case was moved from the Ennis Circuit Court to Dublin, which is so backed up that it meant their trial was at least a year off. The High Court finally ruled on Nov. 26 that their passports should be returned to them so they could return home to await trial. Their trial is now set for April 13, 2021.

Updates on Ken and Tarak?? *?? Donate to defray legal and other costs

The two members of Veterans For Peace were arrested March 17 for going onto the airfield at Shannon Airport to demand that police inspect a U.S.-military contracted plane believed to be carrying U.S. troops and weapons on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East. These flights, which have been passing through Shannon Airport since 2001, are in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. After being held in jail for nearly two weeks, Mayers and Kauff were released on 2500 euros bail each and forced to surrender their passports.

While they were unable to leave Ireland,? Kauff and Mayers spent their time drawing attention to the issue of Ireland’s complicity in illegal U.S. wars in the Middle East. They completed two “Boots on the Ground for Freedom” walks. In September they carried out nearly a month of walks through the northwest of Ireland, beginning at Limerick Prison, where they were held without bail, and ending at Malin Head, at the site of a marker reading “Eire,” meant to signal pilots to respect Ireland’s neutrality during World War II. In October, they completed phase two of the walks, this time in the northeast, from Dun Laoghaire to the border at Dundalk.

See updates from the “Boots on the Ground for Freedom” walks.

Below is the initial press release explaining their arrest and the refusal of bail. For information on actions you can take and updates on their legal situation, please click on the “Ken and Tarak” button above or go to stopthesewars.org/kenandtarak.

For immediate release 18 March, 2019
Press Statement

Two US Veterans For Peace Refused Bail at Ennis District Court
Monday 18 March
Charged with Trespass and Causing Criminal Damage at Shannon airport

For updates, see stopthesewars.org/kenandtarak or click on the link above.

A group of seven US Veterans for Peace took part in a protest against US Military Base at Shannon Airport on Sunday March 17th.

WHY? Shannon used for refueling troop planes bound for Middle East wars in which up to one million [1,000,000] children have died since 1991.

Two US veterans were arrested at Shannon Airport on 17 March for entering the airfield to inspect and investigate an OMNI Air International plane on contract to the U.S. military.? The two, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, were refused bail at Ennis District Court today.

The plane, tail number N351AX, arrived at Shannon Airport about 8.30 a.m. from Eielson US air force base in Faribanks Alaska, believed to be on its way to the Middle East with up to 300 armed US troops.

At about 10 am Mayers, a former Marine Corps Major and Kauff, a former Army paratrooper, both members of US Veterans For Peace, entered the airfield carrying a large banner that said:

U.S. Veterans say
Respect Irish Neutrality
U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport
Veterans For Peace

Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff on the Shannon Airport airfield. PHOTO: ELLEN DAVIDSON

The two walked across the air field with the intent of inspecting the plane for weapons or munitions, but were apprehended by airport security and Gardai. ?There were detained and interviewed at Shannon Garda station and held overnight for arraignment on charges of trespass and criminal damage.

At Ennis District Court this morning Mayers and Kauff were represented by solicitor Darragh Hassett. The prosecution outlined the charges against them and indicated that they were opposed to bail. Garda Sergeant Noel Carroll gave evidence of arrest on Taxiway 12 at Shannon airport. He also stated that there was a US military aircraft at the airport, most likely referring to OMNI Air N351AX. He also confirmed that the defendants were both veterans of the US military. The prosecutor, Inspector Thomas Kennedy, said there had been substantial damage to the airport perimeter fence.

When the bail issue was being discussed Solicitor Hassett initially stated that the defendants were prepared to agree to bail conditions that involved surrendering their passports, and remaining in Ireland for the duration of the legal processes. This was an unacceptable condition as it would mean that the defendants would have to remain in Ireland at their own expense for up to two years before the trial would occur, and this restriction amounts to punishment without trial.

The defendants then requested an adjournment to discuss matters with their solicitor.

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers being taken back to jail after being denied bail March 18. PHOTO: ELLEN DAVIDSON

After the court resumed, Hassett emphasized that the defendants needed to return home to the USA and would sign a sworn undertaking to return for trial. The prosecution opposed this and continued to oppose the granting of any bail.

Judge Maire Keane then ruled that she was denying bail to the accused and remanded them in custody to Limerick Prison, where they are to appear for a further court mention hearing by video from the prison on Wednesday 20 March.

Further discussions were then held with Solicitor Hassett. He raised the option of appealing the bail refusal to the High Court in Dublin and he was told to lodge such an appeal. He indicated that it would likely be Thursday 28 March before this High Court appeal would be heard.

Ed Horgan, coordinator of Irish Veterans For Peace, said, “This process is a clear attempt to punish the two VFP activists before any trial takes place. We are calling on all peace and human rights activists in Ireland and internationally to campaign not only on behalf of Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, but, more important, on behalf of all the innocent people being killed and injured by US illegal wars.”

Major Ken Mayers served 12 years in the US Marine Corps. He is a former National Board member of Veterans For Peace and participate in veterans peace team delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, Jeju Island, South Korea, and Standing Rock.

Tarak Kauff was a paratrooper in the US Army during the early sixties. He was a member of the VFP National Board of Directors for six years. He has organized veterans delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, South Korea and Standing Rock. He is currently the managing editor of Peace In Our Times, VFP’s quarterly 24-page newspaper.

Contact details:

Ellen Davidson Veterans For Peace USA, Phone in USA: 917-297-8076

Edward Horgan, Veterans For Peace Ireland, Phone +353858519623 edwardhorgan45@gmail.com

Tarak Kauff going to Limerick Jail March 18. PHOTO: ELLEN DAVIDSON