Two British nationals who were seriously injured in the disturbances at the Evian G8 summit site in May are among many activists planning legal actions against the Swiss police.
Martin Shaw suffered multiple fractures to his spine, hip and feet after a rope he had attached himself to during a bridge blockade was cut by police. The experienced climber fell 60 feet into a shallow stream and now faces years of physiotherapy with no guarantee of full recovery.
Speaking to Red Pepper at Shaw’s Lausanne bedside, one of the injured man’s friends said: ‘We are definitely pursuing a legal case against the police and the Swiss state to recoup the medical costs and for compensation, as well as to challenge the increasing impunity of the state and its executive forces.’
Also injured was Guy Smallman, a freelance photographer who was covering the protests in Geneva. Smallman’s calf muscle was extensively damaged when a stun grenade exploded against his leg.
Tim Gospill, an executive member of Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ), confirmed to Red Pepper: ‘We will be pursuing a legal challenge on Guy’s behalf.’ After a picket outside Switzerland’s London embassy, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear was promised a meeting with the Swiss ambassador.
The issues are grave. Human rights violations like those committed at Quebec, Gothenberg and Genoa in 2001 appear to be becoming institutionalised at international summits.
Curfews, roadblocks, raids on independent press centres, protest bans, the (alleged) use of informers and agents provocateurs, and the indiscriminate and unannounced use of tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets are all now par for the summit course.
As Red Pepper went to press, charges against as many as 100 policemen in Italy were being prepared for offences including attempted manslaughter. The offences were allegedly committed by officers ‘policing’ Genoa’s G8 summit in July 2001.
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