neil birrell (neil@lds.co.uk)
Mon, 11 Dec 1995 21:21:01 +0100



After the student demo of 21st November, seven students know as 'rioting
demnstrators' were arrested, and judged at Paris' 23rd Correctional Chamber,
that same evening between 8.30 pm and 1.30 am. Six of them are contesting
the evidence brought against them and the police statements claiming they
contain numerous contradictions. Today we must demand the release of these
students condemned 'as an example' and with no real evidence. Vincent, a
student at Paris VII - Jussieu, who was one of the condemned demonstrators
tells us about that particular evening.

How were you arrested?

Vincent - At the end of the demo there was some rioting on the Boulevard St
Michel near the shop known as the Vieux Campeur. Five or six policemen in
civilian clothes had taken refuge in the shop because some of the 'rioters'
were attacking them. I was there, and I saw what happened: there were some
'rioters', true, but mainly just demonstrators. Firstly the cops carried out
a preliminary charge, taking some demonstrators into the Vieux Campeur. Then
they charged a second time. At that moment I turned my back on them, someone
shouted a warning and I began to run. I was knocked down twice, I got up but
the third time a cop stopped me by twisting my arm. I had such bad bruising
that a doctor told me not to work for 12 days... The cop handcuffed me and
took me back into the shop; he pushed me to the ground and covered my face
with my jacket saying, 'I don't want to look at your mug'. He kicked me in
the stomach, the other demonstrators received the same treatment.

Once in the black maria he gave me a kick in the face. At the 13th
arrondissement police station there wasn't much violence apart from one
truncheoning. However in that police station I saw GUD stickers on the
typewritters and 'Present' on the tables... then we were taken to the police
depot and transfered in security vans to the court.

What happened during the trial?

Vincent - Seven of us were charged with 'rioting'; more precisely I was
accused of smashing a car window, attempting to steal a duvet from it and
rebellion: I deny everything, except rebellion (even in their way of using
the word). One cop also says he saw a box of fountain pens fall out of my
pocket during my arrest: I am therefore asking for finger print tests given
that I have never touched the! I am accused of rebellion which is to say I
kneed, kicked and punched them and insulted them even though there were
three of them. The prosecution described me as a very dangerous individual
who had nothing to do with the students demands and who simply came along to
riot. The court was very harsh with every one and I was given a prison sentence.

In fact the trial was a farce, based simply on police evidence. The police
went to see the shop owner who had been looted, Duriez, and he gave an exact
description of me; however, later on in the trial, he said, 'I wasn't there
so I can't describe any of the rioters'. A journalist from the newspaper
Liberation was also told by one of the shop assistants that she couldn't
identify any of the rioters and couldn't describe me.

There were other unbelievable cases: one student from Paris VIII, who was
trying to stop the riot and climbed onto a car calling on people to stop,
was given a five month suspended sentence for stealing newspapers. Or the
student who was acused of hitting a police officer with a board and was
arrested one and a half hours after the event because he had paint on his

I will therefore file a formal complaint for injuries and false evidence. On
Wednesday I will give an explanation to the General Assembly and I believe I
will receive the support of the students. I fact I don't understand what has
happened to me: I was simply watching and suddenly found myself defenceless
at the police station

Interviewed by Nora Venitia

'Rouge' number 1662 30th Nov 1995