More than 20 months after the assault on the United States Capitol, the long-awaited trial began in Washington on Tuesday in which members of the far-right group Oath Keepers, including its founder, Stewart Rhodes, they will have to answer for “sedition”.
known for his eyepatch and his incendiary speechesthis former soldier will appear along with four other defendants during a five-week trial in a federal court a few kilometers from the seat of Congress.
His lawyers tried to present the last procedural resources, including moving the trial to another place. They were rejected and jury selection, which is expected to last at least two days, has begun in a federal court, located a short distance from the seat of Congress.
On January 6, 2021, the five stormed the temple of American democracy along with a thousand other supporters of Donald Trump, at a time when congressmen certified the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential elections.
From this riot, more than 870 people were arrested and a hundred have already received prison sentences, especially those who violently attacked police officers, but until now no one had had to face the charge of “sedition.”
This accusation, stemming from a law adopted after the American Civil War to suppress the last remaining rebels in the South, “may be difficult to prove,” explains Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and current law professor at the University of Michigan.
Punished by 20 years in prison, this charge implies having planned the use of force to overthrow the government or to oppose any of its laws. It differs from insurrection, which has a more spontaneous character.
“There’s also a connotation of disloyalty to the country, not just to certain government actors,” McQuade notes. For her, however, “the motive is clear in this case, in which the attack was clearly directed against the legislators of Congress.”
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