22.12.2005 -- Evian

Good News - The police are in court on the 13 to 15th Febuary 2006


Court accepts activists' appeal.
Police will be in court for bodily harm through negligence
All are welcome to come and show solidarity on Monday 13th at 9.00am and on Wednesday afternoon (not certain what time) when the verdict is anounced.
The Aubonne-Bridge Action against the G8 in 2003, in which two activists, Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel, nearly lost their lives as the police cut their climbing rope, has entered an exciting new phase. The High Court has accepted their appeal and overturned the decision of the examining magistrate Jacques Antenen. He had previously ruled that the police were not to be charged declaring that the incident was produced by the activists' own temerity. The Tribunal d'accusation du Canton de Vaud has now announced that "the investigation has already produced enough evidence to justify that Michael Deiss and Claude Poget will be sent to trial under the accusation of simple and severe bodily harm with negligence." Until now the criminal investigation has only been carried out against M. Deiss, the policeman from Schaffhousen, Switzerland, who cut the rope. Now the Court has acknowledged the activists' complaint and declared that Claude Poget, the highest ranking officer on the bridge "should have been interviewed as accused."
The activists remain skeptical. "While we are very happy about this decision, we have deep concerns that the judicial system really wants to find out the truth." said Martin Shaw. "They work on the pure assumption that no orders have been given although the phone calls between the Poget and Christian Flueli, his senior officer in the control center have never been examined. This is an obvious step which we have been asking for since the incident happened." The Court considers that the investigation supplements that the activists requested in their appeal are not necessary. Gesine Wenzel says "There is a definite refusal to find out about the implications of the hierarchy. They aim to consider the two accused policemen as the black sheep and the incident as an accident. But if one really wants to avoid such dramas, the entire system of police intervention and internal organization has to be looked at."
Of this opinion is also the local parliamentarian Yvan Rytz who handed in a parliamentary question to the government of the Canton de Vaud. He states: "The government can't ignore their responsibility in this affair. The highest ranking officer on the bridge, a policeman from the Canton de Vaud, did not follow official orders and it's the governments' responsibility to react on those failures. They also need to inform us which training the police have received concerning different types of protest actions. For us it is clear that Shaw and Wenzel have suffered enormously due to the actions of our policemen and should be compensated."

29 parliamentarians from different parties are openly supporting these concerns.
The climbers who have suffered severe physical and emotional injuries have received no compensation, whilst considerable amounts have been awarded to shop-owners whose windows were destroyed during the protests. "This shows how the state protects property over people's lives", concluded the activists. "The decision of tribunal is a first step. But it is important to remember that this is absolutely exceptional and that most complaints about police violence remain uninvestigated and never lead to prosecution."
text of the parliamentary question:

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