Published on Wednesday, September 13, 2000 by Agence France Presse
France's Anti-Globalization Hero Gets Jail Term For McDonald's Attack
MILLAU, France - The star of France's burgeoning protest movement against globalisation and junk food, Jose Bove, was given a tougher than expected sentence of three months in jail Wednesday for leading an attack on a McDonald's restaurant in August last year.

The judge in this southern French market-town decided that the prosecution's request at the trial earlier this year for a one month term, plus nine months suspended, was insufficient for an act of criminal vandalism that cost the fast-food chain an estimated 720,000 francs (110,000 euros, 95,000 dollars).

Bove Sentenced
French farm workers union leader Jose Bove (C) is surrounded by journalists after he was sentenced to three months in prison by the court of the French southern town of Millau September 13, 2000. Bove was accused of leading a premeditated commando operation in which the 47-year-old sheep farmer and others "dismantled" a McDonald's fast-food outlet in a symbolic protest against an American target. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles
Eight co-defendants, all members of Bove's Peasant Confederation who the prosecutor argued had been following his instructions when they ransacked the half-built restaurant, were given short suspended jail terms and small fines.

After the verdict the moustachioed sheepfarmer and activist vowed to appeal and said his fight against blind market forces would continue.

"Prison doesn't worry me. I've been there before and I'll go back if I have to. Justice does not emerge enhanced from this judgment. They obviously understood nothing of our movement," he said.

In an echo of the carnival-like scenes that accompanied the trial in July, around 400 environmentalists and left-wingers gathered in Millau to support Bove, and booed when news of the verdict was brought out.

"We are all Boves," they shouted when he emerged from the courthouse.

Bove, who is 47, was transformed into a folk hero after the attack on the McDonald's, which he persisted in describing as a symbolic act designed to draw attention to the injustices of the world trading system.

He has become a star of the international movement against globalisation, appearing in protests in Washington and Seattle, and in his perfect English articulating the interests of small producers against the predominance of agro-industry.

The attack on McDonald's -- chosen as an emblem of American cultural and gastronomic expansionism -- came after the United States had imposed trade sanctions on European foodstuffs, including the Roquefort cheese that Bove produces, in a row over beef.

Calling as witnesses a number of well-known campaigners against globalisation, Bove argued that the act had to be seen in the context of the worsening plight of small farmers like himself against the inroads of big business.

But the prosecutor said that though Bove had become a media hero, the case was a criminal matter, about vandalism to private property.

He also linked the attack to the bombing by Breton separatists of another branch of McDonald's in May in which a woman died, arguing that Bove had indirectly set the fast-food chain up as a legitimate target.

Copyright 2000 AFP