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FRANCE: Activist Gets Jail for Ransacking McDonald's

February 6th, 2002

PARIS -- France's highest court upheld on Wednesday a three-month jail sentence for anti-globalization activist Jose Bove over his ransacking of a McDonald's restaurant to protest U.S. trade barriers.

The ruling announced by the court means the sheep farmer and left-wing campaigner has exhausted all means of appeal against his conviction for the 1999 assault on the site of a planned new fast-food outlet in the southern French town of Millau.

Yet supporters of Bove, for many French a symbol of their proud food and farming traditions, think there is a chance he can avoid jail or get a reduced term because a lesser court still has to rule on how the sentence will be applied.

Bove's appeal has rested on the political argument that the attack he led with a group of other activists was "legal and necessary" in response to punitive U.S. taxes on Roquefort cheese and other European farm goods. He was not in court.

He is also fighting against a separate six-month jail term handed down last December for hacking down genetically modified rice plants in a 1999 raid on a research center. A decision on that is not expected before the end of the year.

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