The judgement in the appeal trial of the 11 field Liberators from Wetteren was announced just before the winter holidays on 23 December. The good news: they were acquitted of their previous conviction of being a “criminal gang”.
This verdict emphasised the absurdity of persecuting people who defend social and environmental causes by participating in an action of non-violent civil disobedience for forming a criminal gang. According to the Field Liberation Movement and all their supporters this action was necessary to denounce the undemocratic nature of decisions around GMOs. Indeed, the field trial itself was judged illegal in a Belgian court (but was nevertheless allowed to continue). The Belgian Green Party is now proposing a new bill that aims to make it impossible to sue protesters as criminal organizations.
What is left in the verdict is a compensation of about 18,000 euros that the activists should pay to two Flemish research institutes involved in the field trial. The activists proposed that these institutions invest this money on research into agroecological agriculture, based on the needs of farmers and consumers, rather than those of multinational companies.