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The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Millau:
"He still insists nothing less than a full acquittal will do"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Call for prison in Big Mac trial
Tractor, defendants and supporters
Defendants went to court on Friday on a tractor-drawn cart
The prosecution in the trial of the French farmers' leader Jose Bové has demanded that he serve a 10-month jail sentence - with nine months suspended - for attacking a McDonalds restaurant.

Mr Bové is accused, together with nine other men, of carrying out an attack last August on a half-built McDonalds branch in the market town of Millau. They were protesting against US duties on French cheeses.

When the details of the prosecution's request were relayed to the crowd waiting outside the courtroom there were whistles and jeers.


Pro- Bové concert
Thousands turned out for a concert in support of Mr Bové
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators descended on Millau in a show of support for the accused, and brought a festival atmosphere to the southern French town.

They included anti-globalisation protesters, environmentalists, trade unionists, students and other campaigners.

A pop concert went on late into the night in support of Mr Bové and his co-defendants.

'Deterrent'

Summing up for the prosecution, Alain Durand said that Mr Bové was a popular and emblematic man who had instigated the action against the McDonalds site. The prosecution argued that he should be punished "as a deterrent".

Mr Bové's fellow defendants, Mr Durand said, were simply agents and should face suspended sentences of less than three months.

Jose Bove
Mr Bové has become a folk hero, especially for farmers
The prosecution said that their status as militants should not exonerate the defendants of a crime. Mr Durand said that Mr Bové's public designation of McDonalds as a target had contributed to an attack on another branch of the restaurant.

Mr Durand reminded the court of a bomb attack two months ago on a McDonald's restaurant in the town of Quevert which killed a young employee.

"It is clear that in publicly designating McDonald's as a privileged target, Bové helped to create in certain unbalanced people an image of the company as scapegoat," Mr Durand said.

Food war

When he arrived in court on Saturday morning, Mr Bové said he was confident the judge would acquit him.

In court the defence argued that it was the only means at the defendant's disposal to protest against high US tariffs on French products.

Demonstrators in Millau
Campaigners against the global marketplace see this as a test case
Defence lawyers called several opponents of globalisation as witnesses, who argued that the socio-political context of the attack should be taken into account as extenuating circumstances.

The attack on the American burger chain came in the midst of a tit-for-tat food war, which began when France banned hormone-injected American beef that was not labelled.

The US responded by adding a 100% tax on Roquefort cheese and other French delicacies.

Mr Bové's supporters see him as a hero who is staunchly defending the interests of the small French farmers against multi-nationals like McDonalds.

He has dubbed Millau "Seattle-on-the-Tarn" - a reference to the local river and the massive anti-globalisation protests he attended during the Seattle summit of the World Trade Organisation last year.

The verdict in the trial is expected in several weeks' time.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Europe
France's farm crusader
16 Sep 99 | Europe
Chirac slams US food domination
29 Jun 00 | Business
Agriculture talks falter
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