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The Legal Situation
updated 13 jan 2006

accusation against the police_3.jpg

questions to the canton parliment (pdf in french) and answers to from the parliment (pdf in french)

Legal summary:

Police in court after nearly killing two activists during the 2003 G8 protests in Evian

On the 13th, 14th, 15th of February 2006 a court case against two Swiss police officers will take place in Nyon, Switzerland. They are charged with causing bodily harm through negligence. The activists had tried to have them charged with endangering life, severe bodily harm and non-assistance in distress. The lawyer for the activists has now submitted an official request to increase the charges to endangering life.

During the G8-protests in 2003, Michael Deiss cut the climbing rope of two activists who were blocking the Aubonne Bridge, nearly causing both their deaths and seriously injuring one of them. His senior officer, Claude Poget, had created the chaotic conditions at the scene that made this act possible. The injured climber was in hospital in Switzerland for a month and sustained irreversible injuries. Many solidarity actions and campaigning took place after the incident in June 2003 and again around the court case AGAINST the activists in May 2004. The case gained a lot of national and international media attention.

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 drop the case against the police. 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.

The court case against the police will be decided by the same judge who gave the activists suspended prison sentences, Jaques Antenen. If the charges against the police are proven, there will only be minor penalties, like fines or short sentences on probation. Given the history of police impunity in Switzerland, it seems unlikely that they will be found guilty. 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. Until now the Canton de Vaud has refused to pay compensation, but this will now be dependent on the outcome of the court case.

During the court case in February, several witnesses and activists from the bridge and several police officers will testify.

Update as of October 2005: Not surprisingly on the 22nd Oct a judge finally decided that the none of the police are to be charged. We are appealing, and should get the result within four months .

Three of the activists, including the two climbers were found guilty of “Blocking the road and endangering life” in a one day trial in June 2004. The local activist was sentenced to 20 days jail, Gesine was given “just” 10 days as it was accepted she had suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Martin did not receive any sentence as it was accepted that he had “suffered enough”. All sentences were suspended for two years.

Seven other activist were found guilty of the same charges in there absence and sentenced to 15 days prison suspended for 2 years plus 420 Eros payment for the legal process.

Martin and Gesine have put in an application for compensation, which will be decided by the canton Vaud government and demanded disciplinary action to be taken against the senior officer on the bridge.

more info see press release from the 12 of december .pdf of the sentence, the appeal and the demand to the government available in french on the site

Old Info.

The policeman who cut the rope on the other hand has still not been charged. An investigation for body harm with negligence against him has been started. Considering that this does not take account at all of the criminal behaviour of the police during this intervention Martin and Gesine declared themselves civil party in this process. They filed a denounce for endangering their lives, severe body harm and non-assistance in distress. Considering that the senior officer is actually the real responsible for what happened because he did not bother at no point about the climbers’ safety during the whole intervention, the activists accuse him for the same.

While the activists got charged very quickly, the investigation against the police does not advance.
The investigation judge seems to be partial and is investigating in a way to protect the police.

  • At the point when the investigation had only just started he told the press that there was a certainty that no orders had been given.
  • Although the civil party had asked for witnesses from the activist side to be heard, the judge ignored their right to demand this and heard only witnesses from the police.
  • He refused to give legal aid to Martin although this is normal proceeding for victims. This decision got only reversed after an appeal to the superior court.
  • It took him more than a month to ask for the Indymedia video footage of the action that was offered to him in a written form the day after the action.
  • He refused to recognise Gesine as a victim although it was only due to luck and the quick reaction of the support team that she did not die.