Hautes-Alpes: activists accused of facilitating the entry of migrants into France, the “seven of Briançon”, released on appeal

The case drew a lot of ink and earned the actors the nickname “Seven of Briançon”. Tried on appeal and accused of facilitating the illegal entry of migrants into France, seven activists were released by the Court of Appeal in Grenoble (Isère) on Thursday 9 September. In 2018, they were sentenced to prison terms in the Gap (Hautes-Alpes).

The defendants were part of a group of 200 protesters who crossed the Col de l’Echelle from Italy to the Hautes-Alpes on April 22, 2018, the day after an anti-migrant action by the group far right Génération Identitaire (now dissolved) in the same place.

At the hearing in May, the public prosecutor accused the defendants of having facilitated the entry into France of about twenty migrants that day and of having forced a police blockade. He had asked for up to eight months in prison. The defendants alleged that they were not aware of the presence of these migrants at the demonstration and that the roadblock had only been bypassed.

In its judgment, the court found that it is “not shown” that the demonstration was organized “with the intention of helping foreigners to enter France illegally”. “In addition, on that day only one irregular entry was disclosed, without it being established that the defendants had contact with the foreigner in question.”, she added.

In November 2018, five of the activists (two French, one Italian, one Swiss and one Belgian-Swiss) were sentenced to six months of suspended sentence and two others (both French) to twelve months in prison, four of which were closed, because of his judicial past. All were released on Thursday, but one of them was also tried for “rebellion” and was sentenced to four months in prison.

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“It’s an extremely strong signal for all those who militate in a solidarity and humanitarian framework”, cheered me Vincent Brengarth, one of the defense attorneys.

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