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by Gesine Wenzel
Monday, Feb. 13, 2006 at 11:53 AM
Police face jail for injuring climbers on the Aubonne Bridge
From the 13th to the 15th of February three judges will preside over the trial of two police officers who nearly killed an English and a German climber by cutting their rope during the protests against the G8 in Evian, 2003. More than 25 witnesses, including senior polices from the head quaters and activists on the bridge will present evidence during the trial in Nyon. The case will focus on the question of whether or not the police-officers ignored or followed orders. The verdict is expected to be announced on Thursday or Friday.
The court case is the result of three years of public and legal pressure, including the subject being raised in the Swiss Parliament, an appeal to the High Court, and a long campaign to have the initial judge changed due to his refusal to hold a trial. The Swiss police force are usually well-protected from charges of brutality and incompetence – this is the first time that they have faced such charges at this judicial level in over twenty years.
One of the accused is Sergeant Major Claude Poget from the Swiss Canton “Vaud”. He was the Senior officer on the scene of the incident and is accused of being responsible for creating the life-threatening situation where orders and crucial safety rules were ignored. The other officer charged is Michael Deiss, from Schaffhausen who actually cut the rope. This officer was only supposed to be driving, and disobeyed orders by engaging with the acitivsts and cutting the rope.
They are accused of causing severe bodily harm with negligence. This bodily harm for one of the climbers, Martin Shaw, included a broken back, broken pelvis and a shattered foot. He will never fully recover from his injuries, and it is impossible for him to return to his profession as an electrician. The charges also include bodily harm against the second climber, Gesine Wenzel who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for more than a year.
The activists and their lawyer, Jean-Pierre Garbade, are convinced that there is more to this situation than just negligence. “We intend to prove in court that the police knew that people were hanging from the bridge before Poget and Deiss arrived on the scene”, said their lawyer.
“From the moment they arrived they had only one aim – to get the G8 convoy through, whatever the cost. The superior said very clearly – I don’t mind if the climbers break their necks!” said an activist from the bridge who will testify during the court case.
Jean-Pierre Garbade handed in a paper to increase the charges, first to bodily harm with dol eventual, which means that they are accused of having consciously taken the risk of killing the two activists and while also endangering life by destroying all the safety measures the activists had taken.
“The way the police acted on the bridge only reflects the way the G8 is behaving when it is pushing through its neo-liberal policies – no respect for life. Money and power take precedent over people and planet.” said Martin Shaw.
Gesine Wenzel said “Their systematic repression is a logical response to the fact that resistance to global neo-liberalism is growing. We have a vision of a world where people can live a free, self-organised life. And our solidarity gives us the strength to fight for it.”
Download photos in high resolution and video on www.aubonne.ch.vu
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