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Good News - the police are being charged

Court accepts activists’ appeal.
Police will be sent to court for bodily harm through negligence

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. is 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.
text of the parliamentary question:

Download Press release

Justice for Aubonne - The fight continues!

Action au Chateau: Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel demand disciplinary action and compensation. Their appeal against the judge's whitewash of the police declares the police intervention on the Aubonne bridge as illegal and requests further investigation.

With a banner saying "Your cops are your responsibility!", today the climbers of the Aubonnebridge Action entered the Chateau in Lausanne, seat of the government of Vaud. The two activists, who nearly had been killed by the police cutting their climbing rope during the G8 last year, together with supporters and the press, asked the Conseil d'Etat to accept responsibility for the actions of their police force.
The document produced by their lawyer requests disciplinary action to be taken against the officer who cut the rope, Michael Deiss, and his senior officer, Claude Poget, for their illegal intervention. Until now the state has been ignoring the fact, that both have been disobeying the official G8 guidelines and neglected their duty to protect human life. Nothing has been done about the obvious dysfunction of the internal police hierarchy. The G8 guidelines stipulated that the police have to engage in communication with protestors, even in spontaneous actions. The instructions were to act proportionally and to respect the right of freedom of expression.
At the same time compensation for the injuries and the suffering of the climbers has been claimed based on the Loi sur la responsabilite de l'Etat, des communes et de leurs agents. The state has been invited to engage spokes people to enter negotiations.

A 23 pages appeal against the decision of the exmining magistrate to whitewash the police has been handed in to the Tribunal of the Canton of Vaud. The tribunal has been asked to charge Poget and Deiss for endangering life and severe body harm on Martin Shaw and simple body harm on Gesine Wenzel plus charging Poget for false testimony. The latter had made several false statements that are in clear contradiction to the video evidence.
Considering that the instruction judge had ignored the requests for investigation from the accusing party, the open questions were repeated to the higher court: How can it be that police teams are formed that can't communicate? Had the Swiss German police reinforcement permission to act although they could not even understand orders or information?
What was the content of the Poget's phone conversations before the cut of the rope? To what extent was language a real problem? Which orders and which information was given when, by whom and to whom?

The declaration of the instruction judge had been criticised for being biased.
It contains elements that are arbitrary and contra-dictionary to the file. The judge had ruled that the temerity of the activists were the main cause for the incident. Martin Shaw rectifies: "The biggest "mistake" we made was to believe that the police would actually follow their orders !"Gesine Wenzel despite of the history of police impunity in Switzerland and the general rise of repression of political dissent still wonders: "How is it possible, that we have been declared guilty for endangering the lives of the drivers and the police who nearly killed us are let off without even a trial? How can people still believe they live in a democratic, neutral country when double standards are so obviously applied?" Martin Shaw is certain: "Now is the time for the politicians to accept responsibility."

Aubonne Group (with 8 min video of the action)
For more information or interviews with Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel, contact: 078 683 6405


november 2004

Last Downloads

Swiss judge ruled - No charges against the police after nearly fatal attack.

The police officer who almost killed the two climbers of the Aubonne Bridge Blockade against the G8 won't even face a trial. The judge's declaration lacks factual evidence, logical reasoning and impartiality.

The magistrate investigating the Aubonne case, Mr. Jacques Antenen, has declared that the police will not be held responsible. A policeman had cut the rope from which two climbers were suspended, whilst blockading a delegation on their way to the G8 summit in Evian May last year.

The investigation in the Canton of Vaud has lasted for 18 months and the final conclusion, released on the 22 of October, declares that the incident was fault of the activists themselves, because they have put themselves in a dangerous situation. The magistrate said that any mistakes the police made were understandable given the exceptional security situation during the G8 meeting and were outweighed by the temerity of the activists. The activists have appealed this decision to the higher court.

It appears clear that the investigation was conducted in a biased manner, rather than trying to find the truth, it contrived arguments to justify the police’s actions and to secure their impunity. The judge’s final declaration appears to have been written backwards, from the conclusion to the justification, and lacks logical reasoning, factual evidence and impartiality.

The activist’s lawyer has stated that this decision gives a carte blanche to the police to do whatever they want without fear any legal consequences. The activists said they were not surprised by the decision given the history of police impunity in Switzerland and the general rise of repression of political dissent. They wonder however: "How can we be found guilty for having endangered the lives of the car drivers and the police who nearly killed us are let off without even a trail? How can people still believe they live in a democratic, neutral country when double standards are so obviously applied?"


Until now the Swiss state has not accepted any responsibility for this incident, either in form of an apology, or any form of medical care or compensation. No internal investigation in to how this could have happened has been carried out, and none of the responsible policemen have been suspended from duty.

Both climbers will be affected by the policemen’s action on the bridge for the rest of their lives. Martin Shaw will be crippled and will be unable to continue his trade, as an electrician. Gesine Wenzel suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and had to have many months of therapy. Other members of the Aubonne Action group also suffered from psychological disorders as a result of the incident.

The climbers and another activist of the Aubonne group were summoned to court in June of this year, to stand charges for endangering the lives of the car drivers on the bridge during the action. They were found guilty despite having taken significant security measures, and two of them received suspended prison sentences. Their appeal was rejected.

The Aubonne Support Group maintains its demands:

  • Charges to be brought against both the policeman who cut the rope and his senior officer.
  • Compensation for injuries and loss of earning

Contacts: with has a 8 minute video of the action (subtitled in en, fr, de, it, es)
A pdf version of the judge's declaration (in french) and the appeal is available on the website or email us at

00 41 078 683 6405 whilst we are in Switzerland
0034 686 906 791 back in Spain

Action Background
The Aubonne Bridge Action against the G8 took place on the first of June 2003 and was aimed at blocking an official delegation on the way to the G8 meeting. The action stated the activists' strong belief that the G8 has to be stopped here and now from destroying people and planet for money and power. The motorway Geneva-Lausanne was peacefully and safely blocked by an international group of 18 activists, on the motorway bridge over the Aubonne River. A rope was stretched across the road and two climbers hung suspended from each side of the bridge in 20m above the ground. As the police arrived they destroyed the security blockade that the activists had set up 100m in front of the rope, to stop the traffic. They allowed the cars to advance to the rope. In a dangerous act they lifted the rope to let the cars pass underneath. Finally a policeman took a knife and cut the rope causing a 20 m fall of Martin Shaw. Fortunately he survived, but was left with very severe injuries to his back, pelvis and foot. Gesine Wenzel on the other end of the rope was saved at the last moment thanks to the fast reaction of the activists on the bridge who grabbed the other end of the rope.

Legal background
The climbers filed a civil complaint against the policeman who cut the rope and the senior officer on the bridge, for non-assistance in distress, severe bodily harm and endangering life. A criminal investigation was launched against the policeman who cut the rope, although only for the lesser charge of body harm with negligence, which is a relatively light charge given the seriousness of the case. Indymedia video footage which clearly shows the events was submitted as evidence.


M. Shaw appeal (.pdf - French)

the Judgement (.pdf - French)