[Imc-europe] Aubonne Bridge Action court case verdict

maqui maqui at syndicate.org.uk
Sat Feb 18 06:44:02 PST 2006


Hello

Here maqui from imc-uk.

We've just put together a feature about the verdict of the Aubonne  
Bridge court case verdict, where the two policemen facing the private  
prosecution have been acquitted ... what a surprise! :-(

Anyway, I am sending it here just in case any of your imc's want to pic  
it up and publish it, or translate it, or use it in some other way. It  
has quite a lot of background info (links) to the action itself, the  
Evian G8 mobilizations of 2003, and the court case. It ends with a  
first hand detailed report of the court case by the Aubonne Support  
Group.

I put the link to our feature below, and I also copy the whole think  
below below in html version just in case you just wanna a do a straight  
cut and paste job :-)

Feature: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/02/333966.html

Cheers

maqui
one @ imc-uk

==========================

Swiss Police Acquitted in Aubonne Bridge Trial

Abstract:
<p>
On the 13th, 14th, 15th of February 2006 a <a  
href="/en/2006/02/332756.html">court case against two Swiss police  
officers</a> took place in Nyon, Switzerland. Michael Deiss and Claude  
Poget were <a href="/en/2006/02/333464.html">charged with causing  
bodily harm through negligence</a>. They were in court after nearly  
killing climbers Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel during the protests  
against the <a href="/en/2003/12/282510.html">G8 in Evian</a>. On  
Friday 17 February the verdict of this private prosecution came through  
with an <a href="/en/2006/02/333889.html">acquittal of the two  
policemen</a> [Read verdict <a  
href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/data/ 
verdict%20press%20release%20international.doc">press release</a> by  
Martin and Gesine].
</p>
<p>
In June 2003, an affinity group <a  
href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/action.php">blockaded the Aubonne  
Bridge</a> with a climbing action in order to stop a G8 delegation from  
reaching the summit in Evian. The police cut the climbing rope. As a  
result both activists were seriously injured, specially <a  
href="/en/2003/06/72621.html">Martin Shaw</a> who spent one month in  
hospital and sustained irreversible injuries. See <a  
href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/video.php">video</a> and a <a  
href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/slideshowen/index.html">Photo  
strory</a> of the event.
</p>
<p>
Other recent newswire reports:
<a href="http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/02/333758.html">Report  
of day 3 of the trial</a> |
<a href="/en/2006/02/333505.html">Statement by the Aubonne Support  
Group on the court proceedings</a> | <a  
href="/en/2006/02/333958.html">Activists walk out of court after  
verdict</a>
</p>
<p>
More information: <a href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/">Aubonne  
Bridge Campaign</a> | <a  
href="http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/actions/2003/evian/">IMC-UK  
Evian G8 page</a> | <a  
href="/en/2006/02/333529.html?c=on#c142005">PigBrother Live Show</a>
</p>

Content:
<p>
<strong>Direct reaction of Martin and Gesine, announced after they had  
left the "hall of justice" in the middle of the verdict being read  
out:</strong>
<br><br>
<i>"What we have seen here during the last three days is exactly the     
       reason why we and thousands of other people like us all over the  
world          think that direct action is the best way to overcome  
injustice.
The entire judicial procedure from the time the rope was cut has been    
        clear whitewash. The prosecution is supposed to defend the law  
but what          they actually defend is the state – and its officers.  
This court case has been an elaborate, expensive and time-consuming  
piece of theatre to provide a platform to find excuses for inexcusable  
actions and to misguide the public by pretending to provide justice.  
<br>
This verdict is a pure cover up of police brutality by the justice  
system and is just further proof of the almost complete police impunity  
in Switzerland."</i>
[Read full <a  
href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/data/ 
verdict%20press%20release%20international.doc"> Press Release</a>]
</p>
<p>
Unfortunatelly this was not the only case of police brutality during  
the mobilizations against the G8 Summit in Evian. In a separate  
incident, photographer Guy Smallman needed a two hour long operation  
after police fired a stun grendade at his <a  
href="http://ch.indymedia.org/images/2003/06/10880.jpg">leg</a>. A  
legal case over this is still ongoing in Switzerland. [<a  
href="/en/2003/06/70454.html">Report of the event</a> | <a  
href="http://www.indymedia.ch/it/2003/06/11259.shtml">Photo sequence of  
the shooting</a> | <a  
href="http://media.gn.apc.org/fl/Charge-GVA_small.mov">Video of Guy  
being shot</a>]

<h3>Report from the Aubonne Support Group:</h3><br>
<p>
<strong>Activists walk out of court as Swiss Police found not guilty  
after nearly killing  climbers at G8 Protests, 2003</strong>
</p>
<p>
Today, (17.2.2006) the facade of a trial against the police ended in a  
not guilty verdict with little chance of their victims ever receiving  
compensation. As the verdict was read out this lunchtime the activists  
walked out of court shouting that they had had enough of this bullshit.  
The whitewashed trial of two police officers in Switzerland, acquitted  
of the charges of causing severe bodily harm. The two victims narrowly  
escaped with their lives after a police officer cut a climbing rope  
during a protest action against the G8 in Evian, France in 2003.  
Despite clear video evidence that the police officers had cut the rope  
the judge supported police impunity by ruling that they had made  
mistakes but that these were understandable in the context of the  
stress they were under!
</p>
<p>
Only 3% of incidents involving police brutality are brought to trial in  
Switzerland, and even then there is only a 0.08 % conviction rate so  
the odds were always against us. We only got as far as we did because  
of the support and solidarity of many people and it has shown us the  
importance of this. It was seen as a monetous occasion to see the  
police in court at all, (its never ahppened in that part of Switzerland  
before!)
</p>
<p>
Verdicts like this clearly show that you can’t expect justice from the  
courts or protection from the police and show that we are right to have  
no faith in our so called justice system, (the reason why direct action  
was used to blockade the Aubonne Bridge in the first place!)
</p>
<p>
This is one small instance of repression and injustice, from the <a  
href="/en/2006/02/333037.html">29 police-officers currently standing  
trial</a> for acts of appalling brutality at the <a  
href="/en/actions/2001/genoa/">G8 summit in Genoa, Italy in 2001</a>,  
to the massive display of police and military force recently in <a  
href="/en/actions/2005/g8/">Gleneagles, Scotland</a>, the G8 is having  
to use enormous amounts of force to protect itself against the ever  
increasing amounts of people that challenge its legitimacy.
</p>

<p>
  As part of the mobilisation against the G8 in June 2003, two climbers  
hung from a rope across the Aubonne Bridge in order to stop a G8  
delegation from reaching the summit in Evian, France. The police cut  
the climbing rope and nearly killed two activists. Martin fell 25 m and  
broke his back, his pelvis and shattered his foot. Despite five  
operations, he will never make a complete recovery. Gesine, was saved  
when members of her affinity group grabbed her rope seconds before she  
fell. She has suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and  
has had to undergo intensive treatment. [Photos of the action <a  
href="http://www.indymedia.ch/demix/2003/06/10488.shtml">1</a> | <a  
href="http://www.indymedia.ch/demix/2003/06/10502.shtml">2</a> | <a  
href="http://www.indymedia.ch/demix/2003/06/10517.shtml">3</a> | <a  
href="http://www.indymedia.ch/demix/2003/06/10530.shtml">4</a>]
</p>
<p>
Many <a href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/support.php">solidarity  
actions and campaigning</a> took place after the incident and again  
around the court case AGAINST the activists in May 2004. At the trial  
in 2004 the activists were found guilty of blocking the road and  
endangering the lives of the drivers. Shortly afterwards the  
investigating judge decided to effectively <a  
href="/en/2004/11/301328.html">drop the case against the police</a>.  
Only after an appeal and a great deal of public pressure did the high  
court overturn his decision and allow for the case to go ahead.
</p>

<p>
<strong>The Trial against the police.</strong>
<br><br>
The court case against the police had the same judge who gave the  
activists suspended prison sentences so there was not much hope of a  
fair trial. The lack any genuine defence was illustrated by the fact  
that one of the main arguments used in favour of the police was simply  
that the climbers would not have been cut down if they had not been  
hanging there in the first place. BRILLIANT. They made out that despite  
many months of preparation and training they were  completely  
unprepared for the possibility that people might blockade the motorway,  
despite the fact that they other security forces were stationed as  
lookouts on other bridges nearby.
</p>
<p>
Even if the charges against the police had been proven, there would  
have only be minor penalties, like fines or short sentences on  
probation. The Aubonne Bridge campaign from the very beginning has  
demanded the suspension of the two police officers involved, an  
independent investigation into the repression that took place during  
the G8 and compensation for those who were seriously injured. It is  
likely that the Canton de Vaud will now never pay a penny.
</p>
<p>
<strong>The Verdict.</strong>
<br><br>
Protesters and press journalists gathered outside the court in Lausanne  
Switzerland, to hear the verdict of the case against the two policemen.  
Several wore big cardboard Swiss army knives on their backs to  
demonstrate that the Swiss police are killing people and that the  
justice system afterwards stabs them in the back. Other protesters were  
dressed as cleaners and started helping the court in their whitewash,  
cleaning the court with sponges and toothbrushes. Martin and Gesine,  
the two activists cut from the rope in over two years ago held a banner  
saying: <a href="http://www.aubonnebridge.net/data/blanchir.jpg">"The  
justice system whitewashes police brutality"</a>. The courtroom was  
filled with press and protesters as the judge  read his 23 page  
judgement. As he began the judge, Pierre Bruttin, stated that in his  
court there is no police impunity, and that the court had considered  
the whole case with great caution and decided only on the basis of the  
facts and the law. It soon became clear that he was just repeating the  
arguments of the defense and the prosecution, contradicting all the  
arguments of the civil party and not considering the most critical  
points. He argued that the cutting of the rope was provoked by the  
temerity of the activists, and that while objectively the police has  
made mistakes, subjectively it had to be understood because they were  
under such great stress at the time.  Video evidence shown in court,  
clearly shows that it was the actions of the police officers arriving  
on the scene that provoked the tension and the chaos not the other way  
around.
</p>
<p>
<strong>The reaction.</strong>
<br><br>
At this point Gesine and Martin decided that they had had enough. They  
stood up, unfurling a banner saying “Police partout, justice nul part”,  
(police everywhere, justice nowhere) and declared, - “we are going, we  
have heard enough bullshit, lies and excuses” – and left the courtroom  
followed by their supporters. Outside the climbers made a statement in  
front of the TV cameras saying that this was just further evidence of  
police impunity in Switzerland and that it was clear that the justice  
systems covers up police brutality. Shortly afterwards the rest of the  
public and lawyers came outside. Asked what he thought of the acquittal  
the lawyer said that, “It is a judicial scandal that such behaviour can  
be excused by stress and impulsiveness.”
</p>
<p>
The climbers read out this declaration in front of the court:
<br><br>
“What we have seen here during the last three days is exactly the  
reason why we and thousands of other people like us all over the world  
think that direct action is the best way to overcome injustice.
The entire judicial procedure from the time the rope was cut has been  
clear whitewash. The prosecution is supposed to defend the law but what  
they actually defend is the state – and its officers. This court case  
has been an elaborate, expensive and time-consuming piece of theatre to  
provide a platform to find excuses for inexcusable actions and to  
misguide the public by pretending to provide justice.  This verdict is  
a pure cover up of police brutality by the justice system and is just  
further proof of the almost complete police impunity in Switzerland.”
</p>



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