Court up in the drama as 19 protesters face magistrate

THE street theatre of the Clarence Valley's protest against CSG mining entered the court house yesterday when 19 people charged with offences at the 78-day Glenugie protest faced the magistrate.

All but one pleaded not guilty to a mix of charges including obstructing a driver's path, resisting police, entering enclosed lands, refusing to obey police directions, assault a person aiding a police officer and malicious damage.

The courtroom was packed with the about 70 of the accused's supporters, with as many lending their support outside the building.

Twice they erupted into wild applause, when accused John Wyborn, who was remanded in custody last week when he refused to sign bail papers, was freed on bail and when Benny Zable, a performance artist, attempted to make a speech protesting the "outrageous charges" made against him.

"These charges are full of lies and distortions," the self-represented Mr Zable said.

"I have film of my arrest and it shows the exact opposite of what appears in these charges."

Magistrate David Heilpern cut Mr Zable off, informing him that his case would be heard in full at a later date.

Mr Heilpern made the point that Mr Zable or any of the other accused could write to the Coffs Clarence police area commander and ask for the charges to be withdrawn.

Mr Heilpern adjourned all cases in a similar manner, adjourning them for mention on March 11.

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