activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: france

three no-tav activists currently in custody will soon face additional charges

Lucio Alberti, Graziano Mazarelli, and Francesco Sala were arrested last year related to protests against a high-speed railway being built between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. Currently in custody, they face charges of producing dangerous weapons and carrying them in a public place. Following investigations by national anti-terrorism squads, the three will soon face additional charges related to an attack in May 2013 at a railway work site. According to an Italian news agency article,

Police at the time said roughly 30 hooded vandals broke into the construction site under the cover of nightfall and tore down fences and blocked machinery. In a nearby incident, several other activists confronted police with fireworks and Molotov cocktails. The incident “was an attack on the State, its choices and basic interests,” prosecutors argued.

At last month’s trial of four other activists facing similar charges, prosecutors sought sentences of up to nine years. The railway has sparked protests since 1994 due to its high cost and damage to the environment. Italian activist Riccardo Carraro wrote in October 2013 that the government has “cracked down on the protests, wounding many, indicting more than 900 activists,” and heavily militarized the valley “while deploying thousands of policemen and soldiers to defend the construction.”

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six members of the no-tav movement sentenced for crimes during protests, but two acquitted

Six activists were sentenced yesterday for crimes during protests in 2010 against a high-speed railway being built between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. They were each sentenced to five months. Two other activists were acquitted. According to an Italian daily newspaper article,

No-TAV activists have organized a series of protests against the high-speed rail link throughout Italy over the last few years. Some have included violent clashes with police and disruption of highway traffic. Opponents of the project contest its high cost and impact on the environment.

Rail projects, though often perceived as a form of progress, are enormously expensive and not cost-effective compared to buses. In addition, buses can easily be re-routed if riders change their minds over time about where they want to go. Instead of funding an ever-expanding rail system, which benefits private contractors and people who own commercial property near rail stations, governments should improve existing pubic transit for those who depend on it (e.g., elderly people, people with disabilities, and low-income people) by adding bus shelters, evening and night-time service, and greater access to doctors and hospitals.

Improving existing public transit is also an effective means of protecting the natural world, because it removes some of the dirtiest vehicles from the road, reduces the number of motor vehicle miles traveled, and avoids the environmental destruction involved in constructing and maintaining new rail projects.