US 'nuclear' nun sabotage conviction overturned

image copyrightReuters
image captionSister Megan Rice (middle) and fellow activists Greg Boertje-Obed (left) and Michael Walli

An appeals court has overturned sabotage convictions against an elderly Catholic nun who broke into a US nuclear defence site in 2012.

But the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld other guilty verdicts against Sister Megan Rice, 85, and two others for damaging government property.

It ordered a lower court to give them new sentences.

Rice was jailed for nearly three years for entering the Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee, which stores uranium.

The other two protesters, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were each sentenced to more than five years in prison.

The July 2012 incident prompted security changes at the Y-12 site.

'Displays of ineptitude'

The panel of the appeals court in Nashville, Tennessee, overturned the sabotage convictions of the three peace activists - members of the group Transform Now Plowshares - in a 2-1 ruling.

During their trial last year, Walli and Boertje-Obed received tougher sentences because they had longer criminal histories.

The trio were also found guilty of causing more than $1,000 (£647) of damage to government property.

After cutting a fence to enter the site, they walked around, spray-painted graffiti, strung out crime-scene tape and chipped a wall with hammers.

They spent two hours inside.

The trio also sprayed the exterior of the complex with baby bottles containing human blood.

When a guard approached, they offered him food and started singing.

At the trial, Sister Megan said her only regret was waiting so long to stage her protest. "It is manufacturing that which can only cause death," she said.

US lawmakers and the Department of Energy later launched an inquiry and uncovered "troubling displays of ineptitude" at the facility.

Top officials were reassigned, including at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

WSI, the company providing security at the site, was dismissed and other officers were sacked, demoted or suspended.

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.