PARIS, March 1 (AFP) – The spokesman for a far-left pro-independence movement in the western French region of Brittany went on trial Monday for complicity in the 2000 bombing of a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant that killed a waitress.
Gael Roblin, 31, was one of 11 suspected Breton nationalists who appeared before a special criminal court in Paris in connection with a spate of explosions between 1993 and 2000.
The killing of 27 year-old Laurence Turbec in the Brittany town of Quevert in April 2000 was seen as an aberration from the Breton Revolutionary Army’s (ARB) generally low-level campaign of violence, and prompted both it and its political wing Emgann to renounce the armed struggle.
Roblin, a former rock singer who became Emgann’s spokesman in 1996, is accused of complicity in the McDonald’s attack and faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted. Investigators have not established who actually planted the device.
“Nothing in the dossier can lead for one moment my client either to appear as a member of the ARB or to have designated targets of any kind. As far as I am concerned, I will be asking for an acquittal,” said Roblin’s lawyer Vincent Omez.
Omez was expected to argue that the three and a half years that Roblin has spent in jail before coming to trial were an infringement of his human rights. Five others of the accused are in custody, and the rest are at liberty for their trial.
Breton nationalist sympathisers were joined in the courtroom by left-wing campaigner and former bishop Jacques Gaillot who said, “They have been in jail too long. They have been hounded by the justice system. It’s as if they’ve been judged before they were even tried.”
The trial is due to end on March 26.Pro-independence militants planted a series of small devices at symbolic targets in the 1990s, but investigators believe their methods became more deadly after they acquired powerful explosives in a joint raid carried out with the Basque separatist group ETA in 1999.
The Celtic people of Brittany were united to the French crown in the 16th century. The nationalist movement which grew up in the 1960s has concentrated mainly on asserting the region’s cultural and lingustic autonomy, and there is only tiny support for political separation from France.
In 2002 legislative elections the mainstream separatist movement – the Breton Democratic Union (UDB) – won just 1.5 percent of the vote.
Subject: France news