The Tarnac affair: the farce and fiction in the case against an anarchist 'invisible cell'

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A six-year investigation into the alleged terrorist activities of ten people suspected of having mounted an anarchist campaign of sabotage against the French railway system is to reach a conclusion later this summer when public prosecutors will advise whether they should stand trial. What is known as ‘the Tarnac affair’ began in the autumn of 2008 with triumphant claims by the French authorities that a dangerous anarchist cell with links to international terrorism had been successfully dismantled thanks to the efficiency of its intelligence services. But the case against the group of young anti-capitalists living as an alternative community in rural central France has since become a long-running judicial fiasco, discredited by tampered and incoherent evidence. Their fate now appears to hinge on a controversial police surveillance report, which their lawyers argue was, at least in part, fabricated. Louise Fessard reports.

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On the early morning of November 11th 2008, about 150 police officers raided the tiny village of Tarnac, in central France, where they arrested members of what the interior ministry described as a cell of anarchist militants suspected of carrying out sabotage attacks against the French national railway network.