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11 Anti-ecotax demonstrators to appear in court for vandalism
Eleven protesters against France's ecotax will appear in a court in Brittany on Tuesday. The men are charged with setting fire to an ecotax control portal in protest against a new levy on road freight. Eight other men are currently in custody pending their hearing.
The eleven men were arrested on Friday prior to a demonstration in Nantes calling for the reunification of Britanny. The coastal town has been at the centre of anti-government protests for several months.
The protestors are being prosecuted for belonging to a criminal organization with the aim of "destroying public property through violent means". This, according to the General Prosecutor of Rennes, Thierry Pocquet du Haut-Jussé.
Six other men are also being charged with setting fire to an eco-tax portal in Pontorson in lower Normandy last December. It's now the tenth portal to have been destroyed in only a few weeks.
The prosecutor said that the men used the anti-ecotax demonstrations as an excuse to carry out acts of vandalism.
The men are said to be part of the red bonnet movement, an alliance of Breton farmers, lorry drivers and trade unionists, opposed to plans to raise levies on lorries transporting heavy goods.
They say the ecotax will penalise Brittany because of its remoteness. The government has so far put off plans to enforce the controversial tax.
Supporters of the red bonnets have hit out against the men's arrest and prison conditions, claiming they were merely fighting for Brittany's best interests.