Activists plead not guilty

1 can of tomato soup costs the equivalent of around 80 centimes in Great Britain – a conviction for damage to property is probably significantly more.Bild: keystone

After tomato soup was thrown at a painting by Vincent van Gogh in London’s National Gallery, the two responsible climate activists have rejected the allegation of property damage.

The Just Stop Oil activists pleaded not guilty at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, the court said on request. They are charged with property damage. The trial is scheduled for mid-July 2024 due to an enormous backlog in the British judiciary.

The activists, who were 20 and 21 at the time of the campaign, threw canned tomato soup at van Gogh’s famous sunflower painting from 1888 in October. Then they knelt in front of the artwork and taped their hands to the wall. According to the National Gallery, the work itself was undamaged, only the frame was slightly damaged. The painting, which has an estimated value of around CHF 83 million, was protected by a pane of glass.

For Just Stop Oil, the matter is clear: “The judge should dismiss the case,” said the organization on request. Her reasoning: The fact that the British government is granting licenses for new oil and gas fields contrary to scientific knowledge and international agreements shows “that we do not have a functioning state and that the accused are acting to protect society, the British state and the millions who are already affected by dangerous extreme weather events”.

Just Stop Oil is demanding an immediate end to the granting of new licenses for the production of oil and gas from the government in London. The current British government is still committed to the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and the internationally agreed 1.5 degree target. Nevertheless, London continues to promote fossil fuels, although according to scientists this contradicts itself. (cpf/sda/dpa)

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