The Grenoble Court of Appeal on Wednesday pronounced a general acquittal in the case of the highly publicized anti-migrant operation set up by Generation Identity in the Alps in 2018.
They can claim victory. Sentenced to prison at first instance for their anti-migrant operation in the Alps in April 2018, two identity activists, a former executive of the group (who became a parliamentary collaborator RN) and the association Génération identitaire (GI) were released this Wednesday by the Grenoble Court of Appeal.
Clément Gandelin (known as Galant), president of GI, and Romain Espino, one of its spokespersons, as well as Damien Lefèvre (aka Rieu), former executive of the group now parliamentary collaborator of the MEP RN Philippe Olivier, were judged for “exercising an activity in conditions likely to create in the minds of the public confusion with the exercise of a public function”. In the first placeAt the end of August, the three men were sentenced to six months in prison, fines and deprivation of their civil rights. The association, also sued as a legal person, was fined 75,000 euros (the maximum).
“We are invincible”
During this hearing before the Grenoble Court of Appeal at the end of October, the Advocate General considered that their “Research and monitoring” migrants, “Knowingly organized” and scale “paramilitary”, might have led the general public to think that it was “Of a mission entrusted to persons holding the law”. Adding: “We are no longer on a simple desire to raise awareness, but on an association which grants itself the right to play policeman and create confusion.” The court therefore did not follow it and pronounced the general acquittal on Wednesday. “Thank you to everyone who supported me […]. This is my third release! […] Together we are invincible ”, reacted Damien Rieu on Twitter in the wake of the deliberation. “Yet another victory for GI against the State”, added the muse of the group, Thaïs d’Escufon, on Instagram.
Some 35,000 euros had been spent on this agit-prop operation carried out with the reinforcement of identity activists from several European countries (in particular the head of the Austrian branch of GI, Martin Sellner) as well as from North America with the far-right influencers Brittany Pettibone (United States, now wife of Sellner) and Lauren Southern (Canada). This budget, partly from donations at the time of the Poitiers trial, had been spent in particular for the rental of two helicopters as well as pick-ups and a small plane. An action hailed at the time by the frontists Sébastien Chenu or Nicolas Bay and which was part of a more global identity strategy, called “Defend Europe”, with notably the previous year, in 2017, the (pitiful) naval operation to hunt migrants in the Mediterranean.
Demonstrations of hostility
Damien Rieu, who no longer belonged to the organization at the time (and, after having frogged with the lepenists Julien Sanchez and Marion Maréchal, became a collaborator of the deputy Gilbert Collard), was in charge of the rental of the helicopters for the operation in the Alps, had revealed the JDD. GI had communicated extensively on this action by posting on social networks dozens of photos of its activists posing scowling in the snow or demonstrations of hostility against the rare refugees encountered.
The “Criminal record of defendants” had also been invoked by the court at first instance. Clément Galant has already been sentenced to a suspended sentence for “violence against a person holding public authority” on the sidelines of a sports meeting while Romain Espino has a mention for “rebellion”. Tuesday, they were members of or close to the Lille identity group the Citadel (ex-local GI franchise, but which remains close to the group) who were convicted of racist violence, incitement to hatred and apology for terrorism. One of them, a notorious identity, was filmed by an infiltrated journalist from Al-Jezira when he said he wanted to make a «carnage» on a market in Lille.