Only eleven of the 23 activists (19 men and four women) of the Generation Identity group, dissolved in March 2021, sent back to court were present at the opening of the trial before the Marseille criminal court.
At the helm, there were two versions of this irruption on the premises of the association for the aid of migrants, in the center of Marseille, which opposed each other: a “traumatic aggression” for some, “a political message” for others.
An employee of SOS Méditerranée who was finishing lunch during the intrusion recounted “a violent attack, it was screaming in all directions”.
Panicked, she says she tried to reach her office: “In the hallway, I saw Flora Salacroup (Editor’s note: this activist from Génération Identitaire who had rung the doorbell of the association claiming to want to be recruited) and about fifteen ‘other people running towards me’.
“She forced the door by throwing me on the wall behind and on the wardrobe,” she assured, pointing to Ms. Salacroup. Later, the latter and another girl from the commando would have forced her to leave her chair “by pulling on (her) arm”.
Facing her, Flora Salacroup, who was 18 at the time of the events, claims to have just “discussed with this lady”. The law student, activist with the Republicans and then with the National Rally, before joining Génération Identitaire “a few months before the action in Marseille”, explains that she only wanted to “send a political message”: “SOS Méditerranée, I still think so today, traffics in human beings”.
The activists had also deployed a banner at the windows of the headquarters of the NGO denouncing their practices.
“Why come at 23, with big arms, to send a political message?”, retorts the council of the civil parties of SOS Méditerranée, Me François De Cambiaire, mentioning the presence of a former legionnaire, Peter Sterligov, activist of extreme right born in Russia.
The one who describes herself as “a right-wing, conservative woman”, replies: “I don’t know, the banner was very heavy, and we had to bring the smoke bombs too…”
Questioned at the bar, the deputy director of the humanitarian association, Fabienne Lassalle, visibly very moved, assured that “four years later, the difficulties and the shock (Editor’s note: linked to the intrusion) are still there”.
“We have completely reviewed our ways of operating because we never had the idea that we could be attacked on our territory, at home…”, she lamented.
The 19 men and three women of the “commando” are prosecuted for “violence in meetings”, but also for “participation in a group formed with a view to preparing violence against people”. They face up to five years in prison.
Another activist, who was filming the events outside, is accused of having broadcast images relating to attacks on the integrity of people.
The trial is to be held until October 19.
SOS Méditerranée, an NGO based in Marseille, rescues, via its ship Ocean Viking, migrants trying to reach Europe on makeshift boats in the central Mediterranean, known as the deadliest migratory route in the world.