Getting a portrait of the President of the Republic to denounce France's (in) action on climate change could not be assimilated to theft and fall within the scope of freedom of expression, the Court of Cassation estimated on Wednesday.
The highest judicial body in the country had been seized by several groups of "
" (16 people in total) who had stolen openly and without violence in early 2019 portraits of Emmanuel Macron in town halls in Lyon, in the Ain and the Bordeaux region.
They challenged their convictions for fines for “
theft in a group
Read alsoReturn on a year of "dropouts" of portraits of Emmanuel Macron
The lawyer for “
”, Paul Mathonnet, had notably pleaded for freedom of expression, arguing that “
the offense can be the message, when the offense makes sense (...), is part of the message that she stages
”in a non-violent way. The Bordeaux Court of Appeal, the only one before which this question had been argued, had on the contrary insisted that freedom of expression can never justify committing an offense. The Court of Cassation considered that the Court of Appeal had thus failed in its obligation to "determine
(...) whether the criminalization of the conduct pursued did not constitute (...) a disproportionate interference with the freedom of expression of defendants
”.She therefore quashed the decision and the appeal of the "
”will have to be retried in Toulouse.