06/18/2014 01:26 EDT | Updated 08/18/2014 05:59 EDT

University of Calgary says students no longer guilty for anti-abortion poster

CALGARY - Some students who oppose abortion have won a battle against the University of Calgary four years after being sanctioned for their refusal to remove a poster display from campus.

Seven students tried to appeal being found guilty of non-academic misconduct in 2010, but the board of governors refused to hold a hearing.

In April, a judge ordered the board to hear the appeal. He said the university's original decision was unreasonable and lacking justification.

The Justice Centre for Academic Freedoms said Wednesday that the board of governors allowed the appeal, quashed the charges of non-academic freedom and removed them from the students' files.

"We are pleased with this decision. I commend the students for taking a strong and courageous stance," said centre president John Carpay, who acted as the students' lawyer.

"If not for their courage and persistence, the U of C would have succeeded in reducing the free expression rights of all students."

The group's display, first put up in 2008, was considered too graphic and provocative.

Called the Genocide Awareness Project, it compared abortion to past historical atrocities, such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust. It involved graphic photos of fetuses and victims of genocide.

The university demanded the group turn its display inward so passing students wouldn't have to look at it.

The matter has dragged on for so long many of the students involved have already graduated.

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