Update on the cases of Martin Shaw and Gesine Wenzel who came to Sheffield in February to talk about what happened to them at last years anti G8 protests.
After nearly being killed by the Swiss police, 2 anti-G8 activists now face a possible six months in jail.
Martin Shaw (UK, 39) and Gesine Wenzel (Germany, 25) were yesterday summoned to appear in court on June 28th in Nyon (CH).
Prosecution of the anti-G8 activists proceeds swiftly while complaint against police crawls at a snail´s pace.
Eight months after an incident in Switzerland in which police incompetence nearly cost them their lives, two anti-G8 activists are now being prosecuted by the Swiss Authorities on charges of blocking traffic circulation endangering other peoples' lives.
On the 1st of June 2003, they blockaded a road leading to Evian by suspending themselves from two ends of a rope over a bridge, attempting to prevent delegates from being able to attend the G8 summit. A police officer cut the rope and sent Martin plummeting 25 metres into a shallow, rocky stream beneath the bridge, while Gesine was saved by the quick reflexes of the support team who managed to grab hold of the rope.
As a result of his fall, Martin suffered extensive injuries to his spine, pelvis, and feet. It is still unclear as to whether he will ever regain full mobility. Gesine has been receiving therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both of them have been unable to resume their normal lives since the incident. After all they have suffered, they have been summoned to court on charges which could result in considerable fines and up to six months in jail.
This highlights the extreme lengths that the authorities will go to in order to deter people from exercising their democratic right to protest,’ said Martin. Its outrageous that there are charges involving us having endangered the lives of others, while the police officers that very nearly killed us are going about their jobs as if nothing happened.
We see this as one episode in a rising tide of repression against people daring to challenge undemocratic and unaccountable instituitions like the G8,’ said Gesine. Its really important that people respond to this repression with renewed energy rather than allowing such scare tactics to intimidate people into silence.
Gesine and Martin have filed a complaint against the police for endangering their lives, not assisting them in distress, and for inflicting severe bodily harm on Martin.
While the criminal proceedings against Martin and Gesine have been swiftly processed by the Swiss judicial system, the complaint against the police has been hindered by all manner of bureaucratic obstacles, and the outcome of what would seem to be a clear cut case of police culpability remains unclear.
Gesine and Martin are currently on tour to inform about their case and to highlight the dramatical curtailing of civil liberties across Europe which effectively criminalise the right to protest. The tour starts on the 18th of April in Milano and will continue stopping in several cities in Switzerland and Germany during the next two weeks.
The tour dates are:
- 18.4. Milano (Italia)
- 20.4. Genve, 20 pm, „Hotel des Association“
- 21.4. Lausanne, 20 pm, Cinéma Oblo, av. de France 9
- 23.4. Freiburg (Germany), nachmittags, Sozialforum, evangelische Fachhochschule
- 24.4. Fribourg (CH), 19 pm,Centre Fries, rue Hans Fries
- 25.4. Luzern, 20:30 pm, “Kulturzentrum Boa”, Geissensteinring 41
- 26.4. Basel, 20 pm, „Neues Kino“, Klybeckstr. 247
- 27.4. Bern, 20 pm, i-fluss in der Reitschule
- 29.4. Zürich, 20.30 pm, Infoladen Kasama, Militنrstr.87a
Further info on the rope cutting incident: