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(en) Freedom 6323 Nov 30 2002 - critical case in Norway

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 12 Dec 2002 03:33:37 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

A Critical Mass cyclist was due to go on trial in Trondheim
on 26th November. The case was an important one,
because it was expected to set many judicial precedents for
civil liberties and the rights of individuals in the city. The
cyclist was arrested on 21st September, on a Critical Mass
ride that was being held to mark International Car-Free
Day. Around two hundred people joined in. According to a
police report, the cyclist was stopped for taking part in the
ride, which they said was an illegal demonstration. They
asked him for identification.
But when they were challenged, they had to admit that
they didn't actually know whether the demo was legal or
not. (They later said this wasn't why they'd asked him for
identification after all, but they have yet to provide any
other reason). When the cyclist argued with them, he was
arrested and charged with 'failure to identify' and 'resisting
The case raised two important questions. First, is it
possible for police to demand identification without just
cause? Second, is Critical Mass legal or not? Does it have
a right to exist? This case was expected to determine its
future. Will riders in future be subject to interrogation,
beating and random arrest?
Police were last week waiting for a result before they
decided whether to prosecute cyclists who were arrested
on later rides, which implies they were waiting to see what
precedents were set. This ran contrary to a police lawyer's
statement, which insisted that the case was a simple
criminal trial. This statement was used to deny the cyclist
legal aid, on a court circuit where two out of three judges
are former police lawyers themselves. The trial's key
function wasn't the narrow and bogus charges piled on the
cyclist, but the right to use our streets. As such, its
conclusion will have broad implications for civil liberties,
at a time when their future is unclear.
The trial was due to start at Trondheim Tingrett on 26th
November. Send messages of support to

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