“If justice doesn't hit the nail on the head, it will be seen as impunity.
Their devices can be fatal, ”said Julien Le Guet, one of the spokespersons for the Bassines Non Merci (BNM) collective.
This activist was in Grève-sur-Mignon (Charente-Maritime) on July 25, 2019 when two young farmers twice brushed against a group of demonstrators, journalists and gendarmes at the wheel of their tractors.
“My tractor and my baler are 18 tonnes.
That of my brother weighs 6 tons ”, detailed this Wednesday at the bar the eldest 28 years old.
This breeder appeared before the criminal court of La Rochelle for endangering the life of others and excessive speed.
Minor at the time of the facts, his younger brother will be judged later.
To have crossed in the middle of the fields a “citizen caravan” of the BNM collective.
Its activists intended that day to verify compliance with irrigation restrictions in the presence of the press and under the watchful eye of the police.
The two farmers did not ease off when they passed their vehicles.
The press of the accused would have failed to switch to the leading cars after a too quickly negotiated turn.
On the second pass, the cadet will end up hooking up a journalist's vehicle with his telescopic fork.
“This car has been pierced right through.
It is not a scratch, summarized the president of the court.
If there had been a passenger, you would not be judged here but in front of the assizes… ”
A fierce battle between irrigators and anti-basins
This “excessive trial”, according to Me François-Edouard Andouard, the defendant's lawyer, resonates particularly in Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne.
Since 2017 there has been a fierce battle between irrigators and anti-basins.
Sixteen substitute reserves - their official name - spread over the Sèvre Niortaise and the Mignon must be erected there to store water and facilitate the irrigation of crops.
Estimated cost: nearly 60 million euros, 70% of which comes from public funds, for the benefit of 220 farms.
Up to 12.7 million m3 of water will thus be drawn from the heart of France's second largest wetland, in summer and winter, from groundwater and rivers.
The first works are announced for next spring although all the appeals have not yet been judged.
This situation is fueling tensions and raising fears of “a water war”.
Both irrigators and opponents of the project regularly denounce insults, intimidation or threats from the opposing camp.
In July 2020, the town hall of Amuré (Deux-Sèvres) was thus tagged and degraded by a mysterious group called "the masked newts".
Among farmers, complaints for damage to equipment are increasing.
“Dead animals are left in front of our doors.
Firecrackers are thrown in our gardens.
We must put a stop to these attacks, ”retorts Nicolas Beauvillain, another spokesperson for BNM.
“You should have stopped, but you accelerated!
The defendant tried this Wednesday in La Rochelle refutes any intentional gesture: “We were not aware of this demonstration.
It is true that I was driving a little fast but it was an accident.
I don't even irrigate!
"" The person with whom he worked that day will benefit from these basins, "noted Julien Le Guet before testifying to the fear felt in the face of agricultural machinery.
“They brushed against us at less than 10 cm.
At the first pass, there were middle fingers, he said.
On the second pass, I thought the friends were going to get out of their cars.
I shouted… ”Why did the defendant turn around and pass this“ citizen caravan ”a second time?
"I forgot to count a pile of straw to organize transport, nearly 440 bales," he said.
Lawyer for BNM activists, Me Nathanaël Ormillien denounced “irresponsible behavior.
The sanction must mark the ban in order to ease tensions ”.
The prosecution requested an 8-month suspension of the driving license and a fine of 300 euros: “You should have stopped, but you accelerated!
”An analysis refuted by Me François-Frédéric Andouard.
The lawyer for the young farmer thus denounced "a witchcraft trial" justified "by the risk of igniting our countryside".
“Big tractors scare everyone,” he quipped.
But in the countryside, it's normal to see them!
"Under advisement, the judgment will be known on February 10.