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French trade unionist on trial for refusing DNA test

AFP/Rémy Gabalda

A French trade unionist has gone on trial for refusing to undergo a DNA test during an investigation of the trashing of a local government office during a strike against the closure of a tyre factory owned by the German-owned Continental company. CGT union representative Xavier Mathieu is one of several activists who have been asked to undergo the test, which was introduced for sex offenders but extended to other cases.


Mathieu, who became well-known for his media appearances during the Continental strike, claims his trial is political. Leaders of several far-left parties and one Socialist MP, Jean-Marie Le Guen, turned out at the court in Compiègne, north of Paris, to declare their support on the first day, Tuesday.

They warned that DNA test results are stored in a national databank and claimed that social protests were being “criminalised” by such procedures. A Communist amendment to the law was blocked by Justice Minister Michel Mercier on the grounds that it would give trade unionists immunity.

Although the law allows for a year’s jail and a hefty fine for refusing to cooperate with DNA tests, prosecutors are demanding a one-month suspended sentence in this high-profile case.

Mathieu has already been fined 4,000 euros for his alleged part in the trashing of a sub-prefect’s office by some Continental employees when they heard that 1,120 workers would be made redundant.

The use of DNA tests, which were introduced for sex offences, have since been extended to a number of offences, including violence and the threat of damaging property.

Sentence will be passed on 28 June.

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