G8 2003 Aubonne Bridge : Cops go uncharged after almost killing protestors

6.9.2006 [trauma_workinggroup]

G8 Evian 2003: Tribunal confirms police impunity in Switzerland

Final appeal in the Aubonne Bridge Case against the police rejected

Seven months after a judge found two policemen not guilty for nearly killing two anti-G8 activists in 2003, the tribunal of the Canton of Vaud today decided to reject the appeal filed by activists Martin Shaw (English) and Gesine Wenzel (German).

Following on from the shocking «Innocent» verdict against Claude Poget (Vaud) and Michael Deis (Schaffhausen) of 17 February 2006, the tribunal of the Canton of Vaud decided today to reject the appeal.

Gesine Wenzel, whose life was only saved when the activists on the bridge quickly grabbed her climbing rope as it was being cut by Officer Deiss, said, « I hope this decision has made it clear to everybody that this system is corrupt. All this talk of impartial justice and equality in front of the law is pure hypocrisy. We were found guilty for endangering the lives of the car drivers, and yet the police officers who very nearly killed us have had their violent actions whitewashed once again by the courts. Now the court of appeal has proven beyond doubt that there is no way to hold the Swiss police accountable for their abuse of power even when they are caught on video. Our case is only the tip of the iceberg. This is what passes for « justice » in Switzerland. »

Martin Shaw will never fully recover from the 23-m fall where he shattered his foot and broke his back. In principle it is the responsibility of the government of the Canton de Vaud to pay compensation since they are responsible for the actions of their police, but now this juridical whitewash might give them an excuse to refuse payment.

Until now the government of the Canton de Vaud did not even apoligize or show any attempt to review their police strategies despite the fact it became obvious during the court case that there was a complete lack of information, communication and coordination on the part of the police.

Martin Shaw says « I will be crippled for the rest of my life. I have had to give up my work as an electrician. While all the shop keepers got compensation for broken shop windows, activists who had their bones broken by the Swiss police will never see a penny. This is what their « democracy » looks like.»

This appeal was the final judicial possibilty to hold the police accountable for their actions. There is no possibilty to appeal to a higher court due to a restrictive law that prohibits citizens from making direct claims against a police officer at the federal level.

The activists’ lawyer, Jean-Pierre Garbade declared « It is clear that the two police officers violated the law. The fact that now the court of appeal also grants them impunity for very questionable reasons raises big concerns about the protection of civil rights in Switzerland as did the attitude of the general prosecutor who refused to uphold the accusation.»

The activists point out: “This is the exactly the reason, why we believe in direct action and self-management. This system is only pretending to be democratic. The G8 is the best example for their hypocrisy. This decision made us even stronger in our beliefs. Our struggle continues”.

This is the information we have at the moment. As soon as we receive the details of this unjustifiable judgement we will let you know.

For further information, see: www.aubonnebridge.net

Background Information:

Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel nearly lost their lives during the Aubonne Bridge Action against the G8 in Evian 2003 when the police cut the climbing rope that held both activists.

Martin survived the 23m fall only due to sheer luck but was crippled from the extensive bone breakage he suffered. Gesine Wenzel had her life saved in the last second by her collegues on the bridge. Both activists were found guilty and sentenced for blocking the road and endangering life in 2004.

They filed a complaint against the police, which was initially rejected. It was only after an appeal was upheld that a courtcase against the senior officer on the bridge, Claude Poget, and the officer who cut the rope, Michael Deiss, took place in January this year. After three days the judge found the police not guilty without being able to produce any reasonable arguments.

The judge, Pierre Bruttin, stated that it was the activists’ own fault saying if they had not been hanging from the bridge, the police could not have cut the rope. Secondly, the prosecutor, Daniel Stoll, admitted that objectively seen, the police had made several mistakes, but that subjectively this was understandable due to the stress they were exposed to and by the fact that this form of protest action was unknown to them. He withdraw the accusation.


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