A public prosecutor has turned over an investigation into an anti-mass migration protest in the French Pyrenees to the office tasked with fighting genocide and war crimes.
The prosecutor’s office in Saint-Gaudens handed over an investigation into a January 9th protest along the Franco-Spanish border by the activist youth group Generation Identitaire to the Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, and War Crimes (OCLCH).
Local prosecutor Christophe Amunzateguy stated that he had referred the matter to that hate crime division of the OCLCH which would be working alongside local gendarmerie investigators, La Depeche reports.
France to Increase Border Security After Identitarians Use Helicopters, Trucks in Alps ‘Defend Europe’ Action https://t.co/M4FlqfjJNh
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 24, 2018
According to the newspaper, Generation Identitaire members had gone hiking along the border with Spain at Col du Portillon and deployed drones to monitor the crossing for any illegal migrants attempting to cross into French territory, citing terrorism risks as part of their “Defend Europe” mission.
The prosecutor said the activists “can make statements that are not factual; that is freedom of expression. But there is what we can say and what we cannot say — what is freedom of expression, and what is criminal.”
“I’m not saying I’ll necessarily have a prosecution at the end. I’m saying I’m investigating and at the end of this investigation I’ll establish whether or not there was a criminal offence,” Mr Amunzateguy added.
The potential prosecution comes just months after a court of appeal in Grenoble acquitted several members of the activist group after they had been found guilty of offences linked to a similar 2018 protest in the French Alps.
Austrian Identitarians Fully Acquitted Of ‘Mafia’ and Hate Crime Charges https://t.co/dLOtm9s3ff
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 27, 2018
Despite the recent acquittals — along with other failed prosecutions against the group, including an attempt to label the activists part of a mafia organisation in Austria in 2018 — the French government wants to dissolve Generation Identitaire.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmamin said on Saturday that he believed the activists could be in violation of the law by “provoking discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person or group of persons on the basis of their origin”.
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally said of the French government’s proposal: “Such a dissolution would also be contrary to the constant jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights that ‘freedom of expression is one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and even applies to ideas that offend, shock, or worry’.”