the trial of the alleged organizers is postponed

The spokesperson for the Bines non merci collective, Julien Le Guet, arrives at the Niort court on September 8, 2023.

Such an exceptional trial could not take place normally. And that’s what happened when, around 10 p.m., the president of the Niort criminal court (Deux-Sèvres) announced the postponement of the end of the criminal trial, in which the alleged organizers of the Saint-Soline demonstrations of October 2022 and March 2023 are judged, on… November 28. The hearing, which began on Friday, September 8 at 1:30 p.m., had just entered its eighth hour and there were still seven witnesses, a robust indictment and nine pleadings to be heard.

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It was at that moment that Mᵉ Balthazar Lévy proposed, in agreement with all her defense colleagues, a postponement to avoid a sleepless night and guarantee a little serenity to the debates. However, serenity is needed for this trial which brings together the alleged organizers of the banned demonstrations in Sainte-Soline which ended in unprecedented violence on the part of both the demonstrators and the police.

In anticipation of unrest and faced with the desire of sympathizers of the anti-basin movement to demonstrate in front of the courthouse, the prefect of Deux-Sèvres had prohibited access − except to local residents and people summoned to court as well as the press − a vast perimeter surrounding the Niort courthouse, from Friday morning to Saturday morning. A prefectural decree allowed the police to use drones to monitor the gathering of 5,000 people, according to the organizers – 2,000 according to the prefecture -, which was held on the outskirts of the perimeter in a calm and festive atmosphere.

Unclear charges

By bringing together two spokespersons for the Uprising of the Earth (SLT), two from the Bines, non merci (BNM) movement, two representatives and a member of the Confédération paysanne, a CGT trade unionist and another from Solidaires, the prosecution intended to make a example and judge the “leaders” of a protest which has taken on an unprecedented scale in a year. To the point that the government declared a dissolution of the SLT in June, which was suspended in July by the Council of State.

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But this desire to make an example resulted in vague and poorly defined charges: organization of prohibited demonstrations, grouping with the aim of committing violence against property and people, various damages, theft of agricultural equipment . In reaction, the defendants, who all appeared free, adopted a common strategy consisting of each making a statement at the bar and then walling themselves in their right to silence in the face of questions from the president of the court, Eric Duraffour, and the prosecutor, Julien Wattebled. The president tried to break the defendants from their silence, even if it meant teasing them about the contrast between the result sought by their movement and the image given by the violence, which gave rise to the projection of two video extracts on the screen. hearing. Without success.

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