Switzerland: Policemen acquitted in the Aubonne bridge affair
Saturday, February 18, 2006
— After the prosecution dropped the charges on Wednesday, the local tribunal of Nyon pronounced a double acquittement for sergeant Poget and gendarme Deiss (previous story and facts) — Original Reporting
Nearly one hour of judgement
The 23-page judgement, particularly long for such an affair, was pronounced by the president on Friday at 11:45.
Acknowledging the lasting physical and psychological harm caused to Shaw and Wenzel, the tribunal reacted to the deliberate will to turn the trial into a political tribune: "The tribunal is not the control authority for the police", the president reminded. He ruled out any commentary about preliminary investigations, which had been subject to the criticism of Maître Gerbade, attorney for the plaintiffs, during his requisitory.
The judging underlines the non-violence of the alter-globalisation militants, who "cannot be compared to the vandals" who has made a rampage in Geneva and Lausanne the same day. He also reminded a particularly difficult context for the policemen, who were facing their 4th important intervention of the morning. A filling station had notably been put to fire, fortunately without any harm to people. The tribunal also specifically quoted Indymedia, which it said is an "honourable source".
Reminders of facts insisted on several points:
The militant who was acting as a sentry to protect the rope was not forcibly evacuated by the police, but rather left her station on her own will, in an attempt to interdict the passage of cars under the rope, then lifted by the police.
"One minute and ten seconds" at most passed before the rope was cut by Deiss, one minute of "confusion and general mess", according to the court.
Several policemen were tempted to cut the rope to allow the passage of cars and remove the blocking of the highway, but were told not to do so by a sergeant; thus, cutting the rope seems to be what one would naturally be tempted to do, according to the Court.
The numerous cars stranded on the highway because of the blockade were a risk of major accident; the drivers were infuriated by the stop and the radio was reporting the unrest in Lausanne and Geneva, creating and atmosphere of stress and fear, according the president.
The warnings put by the militants ("do not shoot" and "Stop here or you will kill two people") were seen by the Court as "ambiguous" at best, and "incomprehensible" at worst, since the militants were sitting on the highway, a dangerous place where their own lives were in jeopardy.
"As a consequence, noting can be reproached to the policemen", the president said. "Bullshit", shouted Shaw, who then rose, and barred the room with a poster reading "Police everywhere, justice nowhere"; after insulting the tribunal, the militants and their friend in the audience left in much turmoil, letting the President free to proceed.
The accident occurred as a "series of misunderstandings" and of unlucky causes. Confronted to a completely new situation (no such event had ever occurred then), the policemen acted for what they though was the best interest of the militants and the users of the highway. Denying any will to call the attention of the offence committed by the plaintiffs, the Court however the lack of security rope, of signals, of notification to the authorities and the possibility for the militants to rope themselves at 4 or 5 metres high rather than 25.
In conclusion, the Court pronounced acquittement for Poget, acquittement for Deiss, the payement of the spendings of Justice by the State, and the restitution of the evidences to the parties.
Demonstration of the alter-globalisation militants
Even before the audience, in anticipation of the verdict, the militants protested in front of the courthouse, brandishing posters ("Your cops are your responsibility") and mocking the Court.
In addition to the noisy events of the court room, Shaw also gave much talking after exiting the courthouse, criticising the Justice of the canont of Vaud: "The whole system is corrupted from bottom to top", he said. He complained that it is not possible to obtain justice in Switzerland.
A press conference followed. The commucation to the press on the site of the militants calls of "direct action".
- Ats. "Affaire du pont de l'Aubonne: les deux policiers acquittés" — , 17 février 2006