Statewatch News online: Statement from Gothenburg prisoner

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Statement from Paul Robinson - Gothenberg prisoner

Paul Robinson Support Group
c/o Tom Silverlock, UCL Unison, University College of London,
Gower Street, London WC1 6BT
Tel. 020 7679 5188 / 020 7679 7095

Paul has sent the following statement from Sweden. He wanted his family, friends and supporters to know his side of the story. We are sending it to everyone who we think may be interested. Paul is keeping cheerful, and is working towards his re-trial which will be on September 12th. The verdict will be one week later. Please send him
letters, books, magazines and newsletters (and please enclose your address so he can write back to you). His address is:

Paul Robinson 1090, Goteborg Remand Centre (Haktet), Goteborg Polis Headquarters (Polis Huset), Box 429
40126 Goteborg, Sweden.

Statement from Paul Robinson Support Group

Paul Robinson was present at the EU demonstrations in Gothenberg. He was there with other anti-capitalists, environmentalists, trade unionists and political activists from all accross Europe to voice their collective opposition and exercise their right to protest against the destructive might of global capitalism (from the WTO, IMF, global warming and third world debt, to the continuous erosion of workers and human rights worldwide) and the refusal of democratically elected governments to address the growing crisis of increasing social and economic alienation.

He was arrested on the evening of Friday 15 June, charged with violent riot and sentenced to 1 year imprisonment. He has always denied the charge. He is appealing against the verdict on 3 grounds:

1. The trial itself was fundamentally flawed and unfair The defence was given just 2 days to prepare its case.

He and his lawyer were only made aware of particular evidence the day before the trial.

They were given no access to video footage of the events that could aid their case and exonerate Mr Robinson’s actions.

Interviews with Mr Robinson, used against him in court, were conducted with a police officer who, with the aid of a translator, wrote down Mr Robinson’s answers on a notepad. At no point was Mr Robinson given a copy (in English) of the answers he gave to confirm their accuracy, or offered the opportunity to make a statement of his version of events.

2. The Prosecution did not prove its case.

No evidence was presened in court that showed Mr Robinson was involved in any rioting or that he acted violently. It was not proved he was part of a violent crowd, nor party to acts supporting violence towards the police.

A 10 second video clip does show Mr Robinson throwing 2 cobblestones. He is standing still and throws them in an underarm manner casually into the road. Then he walks away. The cobblestones were tossed parallel to (not at) the line of line of riot police, landing a few yards away from them. Mr Robinson is on his own on the opposite side of the road to the crowd of protesters.

This is the sum total of evidence against him.

He admitted in court that although his actions were thoughtless and irresponsible - a spur of the moment act of frustration at the evnts around him - they were in no way violent or done out of hostility towards the police.

The arresting officer, in court stated that Mr Robinson threw the stones overarm, then witnessed him running away still looking in the direction of the police. The video footage clearly contradicts this.

Every other police officer said that they did not see Mr Robinson act violently.

It was also admitted by a police officer that Mr Robinson was beaten by riot police as he lay pinned to the ground (video footage of this exists but was not made available in court).

Under Swedish law it must be proved his actions were sympathetic to, or had a direct bearing on the riot (i.e. actively encouraging others, running in unison with the crowd of violent protesters) to be convicted of violent
riot. This was not proved. In fact no evidence showed Mr Robinson was ever in the crowd.

The Judge’s verdict stated sympathy was shown because Mr Robinson threw cobblestones at the same time violent rioters threw stones. No evidence was presented to support this. The video footage shows no stonethrowing or any other attacks on police at that time. Mr Robinson is clearly seen at some distance away from the crowd which was passive and uninvolved.

Mr Robinson has always maintained his actions were a futile isolated gesture - an impulsive reaction to a peaceful demonstration descending into violence by the provocative actions of the police - shooting live ammunition into a
dispersing crowd, and the response by protesters resulting in violent clashes. He at no time participated in a riot, or acted in an aggressive, violent way.

3. The level of punishment is wildly disproportionate to the actions involved.

Other protesters convicted of violent riot have received between 3 - 8 month sentences. Despite absolutely no evidence to support the allegation that Mr Robinson was at any time part of violent clashes, part of the crowd when these clashes were taking place, or attacking police, he is now serving a longer sentence than those involved in prolonged and active confrontation.

The decision was based, we feel, on political grounds and bears no relation to the evidence given in court or to the administration of justice. We feel Mr Robinson is being made a scapegoat by the Swedish authorities. One officer in charge, Superintendent Lennart Ornebro was quoted in the press on June 18th 2001 in relation to the arret of Mr Robinson that “there is evidence that a British man was one of the leaders and was one of the most active”. This was before any investigation had begun. No such evidence existed, nor was any found to support such claims. The Superintendent later denied making such allegations about Mr Robinson.

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