Folk hero jailed for vandalism at McDonald's

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jose Bové, the small farmers' leader and anti-globalism campaigner, was given a three-month jail sentence yesterday for breaking up a half-built McDonald's restaurant last year in southern France.

Jose Bové, the small farmers' leader and anti-globalism campaigner, was given a three-month jail sentence yesterday for breaking up a half-built McDonald's restaurant last year in southern France.

Bové, whose sledgehammer assault on the fast food restaurant catapulted him to international fame as an "anti-globaliser", will appeal against both conviction and sentence. The appeal hearing, likely to be in Montpellier early next year, will provide an occasion for another mass gathering of the anti-global trade clans, like the colourful demonstration at his trial in Millau on 30 June.

In the meantime, Bové will remain at liberty and is expected to attend the anti-global rally picketing the International Monetary Fund meeting in Prague next week - with 20,000 other protesters.

The delayed sentence and judgment of the Millau court, announced yesterday, went much further than the penalties recommended by the public prosecutor. Bové and his lawyers had argued, among other things, that there was a French tradition of permitting mild acts of political violence - a tradition since renewed by the government's failure to oppose the truck drivers' and farmers' blockade of oil supplies. By asking for only a one-month prison sentence against Bové (most of which he had already served on remand), the public prosecutor partly acknowledged the truth of his argument. The court rejected it out of hand stating, in effect, that vandalism was vandalism and the law was the law.

If followed by French governments and other French courts, that would amount to an important change in French attitudes to political protest.

The court had shown itself to be small-minded, Bové said. "They have completely misunderstood the significance of our movement," he added.

Eight other members of Bové's organisation, Confédération Paysanne, were also convicted of taking part in the sledgehammer and crow-bar attack on the Millau McDonald's in retaliation for higher American duties on roquefort cheese and other EU luxury products. They were given suspended sentences and small fines. A tenth man was acquitted.

Bové also faced a further prison term because he had been given an eight-month suspended sentence for an earlier attack on genetically modified crops. The Millau court decided to ignore that sentence.

Comments