Trial postponed of 58 GM whistleblowers
Briefing: 58 WHISTLEBLOWERS ON TRIAL IN FRANCE ... TRIAL POSTPONED ...
At 9.30 am, on today Tuesday 22 February 2011, crowds should have been gathering in front of la Cour de Cassation , Ile de la Cité, in central Paris. This is where 'Les 58 de Chartres' [The Chartres 58] (Cf.http://web.mac.com/chardard.ph/iWeb/Site/Bienvenue.html ) were to be tried for the third time. But 'Sarko' [President Sarkozy] has so riled French judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers, bailiffs, court recorders and police officers that [judicial] strike action has brought an already seriously disrupted judicial system to a virtual standstill!
For the record, on Saturday 18 August 2007, 58 Faucheurs Volontaires  had neutralised a GM maize seed trial at Poinville in Eure-et-Loir. They had come from the four corners of Northern France - Brittany, la Vendee, le Centre, le Nord - to accomplish a non-violent act of defiance and to contest the 'iron law of oligarchy' by an act of civil disobedience - a tradition, dating from its first proponent David Henri Thoreau in 1849, which helped Gandhi liberate India from the British yoke and others like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King to make their mark and change the course of history ...
Les 58 de Chartre's met with no violence. Thanks to others before them they were treated with courtesy by local gendarmes who'd never seen so many people in custody! As to feeding them, fortunately anti-GM militants were well organised and sat in the midday sun picnicking under the watchful eyes of their guardians. At two o'clock a gendarme called out to enquire if anybody needed to see a doctor. A wag - Papou - replied that he'd be better to ask that question after the interrogations! The joke and the banter helped people to relax - gendarmes included!
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At the first of the two trials Monsanto's lawyers were unable to establish the exact identity of the hybrids. Neither could the Minister of Agriculture identify the genetic make-up of the plants, nor prove the legality of the 2000m squared secret test site located near a cluster of bee hives. Charged with criminal damage, half of them - who had declined to produce the 'statutory' DNA swabs during theirinterrogation - were also indicted for refusing to submit samples to the national database.
Summoned to appear before a tribunal in Chartres, all 58 were acquitted at their first trial in June 2008 at this French equivalent of a county court. The prosecutor and Monsanto were granted leave to appeal. Tried again at Versailles, in January 2010, the Appeal court convicted them all, giving them three month suspended sentences and condemning them to pay damages of 14 000 â‚¬ to Monsanto, who had demanded more than a million ! Four among them - with previous convictions for similar deeds - were fined individually an additional 3600 â‚¬ each. But the acquittal relating to the DNA charge was confirmed.
In the knowledge that (a) most of the European Union's 500 million people, don't want capital intensive agriculture and herbicide tolerant, factory farmed food, full of insecticide friendly, genetically engineered ingredients, that (b) genetic pollution is irreversible, that (c) highly toxic chemical residues are becoming a permanent fixture of the food chain, that (d) biopiracy is depriving small farmers throughout the world of their ancestral right to save and use their own seeds and that, (e) as a result of their action, coupled with years of campaigning which had fallen on deaf ears, the French government had finally declared a moratorium on thousands of hectares of commercial GM crops then growing in France, 'Les 58 de Chartres' have chosen to challenge their conviction.
Simultaneously l'avocat général  has appealed to overturn the clemency of the verdict on DNA at La Cour de Cassation.
 Cour de Cassation = An appellate jurisdiction ie French supreme court alias the Gallic equivalent to The House of Lords.
 Faucheur Volontaire = member of a GM removal team, hundreds of whom have had to step outside the law to prevent the spread of GM crops in the EU.
 L'avocat général = chief prosecutor.