Oath Keepers militia leader guilty of Capitol-linked ‘sedition’

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Oath Keepers militia leader guilty of Capitol-linked 'sedition'

This is an extremely rare criminal charge. At the trial of the Oath Keepers, the far-right militia accused of participating in a plot to keep Donald Trump in power during the Capitol storming, the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, was found guilty of “sedition”. by a Washington jury on Tuesday. A first for the accused of January 6, 2021, which is punishable by 20 years in prison.

Out of five militiamen, another was found guilty of “sedition” but three others escaped. All of the defendants were instead found guilty of obstructing official process. Their sentence will be handed down in the spring of 2023. Rhodes’ lawyers have announced that he intends to appeal.

870 arrests

On January 6, 2021, these militiamen attacked the temple of American democracy with a thousand other supporters of Donald Trump, when elected officials certified the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election.

Since this coup that shocked the world, more than 870 people have been arrested and a hundred have received prison sentences, including the perpetrators of violence against the police. But, so far, no one had been found guilty of “sedition”. This charge, which stems from a law passed after the Civil War to repress the last rebels in the south, involves having planned the use of force to oppose the government. It differs from insurrection, which has a more spontaneous character.

“A General on the Battlefield”

During the trial, prosecutors showed that the Oath Keepers purchased weapons and combat equipment, and stored them in a hotel near Washington. On D-Day, helmeted and equipped with combat gear, they had entered the Capitol, in combat formation. Stewart Rhodes had remained on the outside, but according to prosecutors, he had led his troops with a radio “like a general on the battlefield”.

On the witness stand, this tribune, recognizable by his black eye patch, denied “having planned” this attack and maintained that the “mission” of the Oath Keepers was to ensure the security of the demonstration called by Donald Trump to to denounce “electoral fraud” (the existence of which has never been established).

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