On Monday, the Nancy Court of Appeal asked for prison sentences ranging from 12 months to eight months’ suspended sentences against seven opponents of the Bure radioactive waste disposal plan who chose to remain silent at the hearing.
Attorney General Agnès Cordier has demanded sentences of eight to ten months’ suspended sentences for six defendants and a 12-month hard sentence for the seventh, already convicted for other facts.
The demands that come “to confirm that this is a procedure in which justice is used to undermine opposition against nuclear power,” lamented Me Rafael Kempf, one of the defendants’ lawyers.
The Council condemned the “disproportionate use” of police and judicial resources “finally for several minor offenses” and will apply for release along with three of its other colleagues who collectively protect activists.
These opponents are being retried in Nancy for possession of substances or articles “as part of an organized gang” “intended to make explosive or incendiary devices” and organizing an unannounced demonstration in Boure (Meuse) on 15 August 2017. The One of them is absent from the meeting and is represented by his lawyer.
– “Nothing has been proven” –
The hearing, which was “an opportunity to revisit this long, drawn-out legal investigation” that lasted three years and four months and “which curtailed many of the fundamental freedoms” of the seven activists, said Me Matteo Bonaglia, another of their lawyers.
In an “intelligence dossier” where “nothing has been proven,” confessed Florian Regli, who dismissed the qualifications of an “organized gang.” “No project, no intention, much less an organized case was found in the case,” he insisted.
At first instance, in June 2021, the Criminal Court of Bar-le-Duc sentenced two of the seven opponents to nine and twelve months in prison. The remaining four received suspended sentences ranging from six to nine months. They all appealed their verdict.
Only one defendant was fully released, the rest were simply released from the prevention of the criminal community, which was initially targeted. The Bar-le-Duc prosecution did not appeal against this exemption.
“We can no longer say that all the people who were charged were directly or indirectly involved in any criminal activity,” Me Bonaglia greeted in this way.
The evidence of the Collective Against the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Cedra) that the file “never stops being blown away,” said its spokesperson Juliette Geoffroy.
– The right to remain silent –
The President of the Court of Appeal, Vincent Totaro, read for long minutes the factual report of investigators trying to establish links between various actors and their involvement in organizing this August 2017 demonstration.
He then wanted to ask the appellants questions about their personal situation, but everyone insisted on their right to remain silent. They also used it during their detention, hearings before the investigating judge and during the trial at first instance.
Due to the silence of the defendants, no hearings were held on the alleged facts, and the trial, originally scheduled for Wednesday, will end on Tuesday.
The 15 August 2017 demonstration was one of many years of protest against this project, dubbed Cigeo, a highly radioactive waste storage facility in Bure, on the border between the Meuse and the Haute-Marne.
This controversial project, led by the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra), aims to bury 85,000 m3 of the French nuclear fleet’s most radioactive waste at a depth of 500 meters by 2035-2040.
In July, this project was declared publicly beneficial by decree, but in September, opponents filed an appeal with the State Council.