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Trial Postponed In Greece for French Protesters Who Disrupted Olympic Flame Ceremony

June 1, 2008

The Associated Press
May 30, 2008

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The trial in Greece of three Frenchmen accused
of disrupting the flame-lighting ceremony for the Beijing Olympics
was postponed Thursday until September.

Three members of Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders were due
to go on trial in the southern town of Pyrgos, but the trial was
postponed due to a strike

by Greek judicial workers.

The defendants have been charged with offending a national symbol, a
misdemeanor charge that carries a possible fine.

At a news conference in Athens later, the group's general secretary
and one of the defendants, Robert Menard, did not deny taking part in
the protest during the March 24 ceremony at Ancient Olympia.

Menard said the demonstration was aimed at drawing attention to human
rights abuses in China. He said he did not consider the protest «an
offensive act.» «We do not regret (the protest), and are proud of it,» he said.

Menard said if the three are convicted «Greek justice would be
exposed to European ridicule.

The protesters ran onto the stadium field at the birthplace of the
ancient Games during a speech by Liu Qi, president of the Beijing
organizing committee. One of them unfurled a black banner showing the
Olympic rings as handcuffs.

Their action marked the start of high-profile protests along the
international torch relay route against China's human rights abuses
and rule in Tibet.

Menard hinted that the group planned further protests in the weeks
leading up to the Aug. 8 opening ceremony in Beijing.

The other defendants are Reporters Without Borders staff members
Jean-Francois Julliard and Vincent Brossel.
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