Police maim photographer in "City of Peace"

Geneva, city of grief

PHOTOGRAPHER Guy Smallman was seriously injured by a police grenade in Geneva on 1 June. The London Freelance Branch committee member was covering protests in the city against
Photo © Paul Mattsson
Guy Smallman covering a protest in Brussels in December 2001

the "G8" summit in nearby Evian for Images San Frontières and for Indymedia.

Reports on Indymedia say that around four in the afternoon a mixed group of peaceful protesters were charged by police who were after a small number of stone-throwers beyond them. The police fired a volley of 20 to 30 so-called "concussion grenades" at the crowd, who were running away from them in panic. One exploded close to Guy's left calf.

After an hour's delay - during which the police continued to shout abuse at Guy and at the protesters who were giving him first aid - he was taken to hospital where he underwent two hours of emergency surgery. As the Freelance went to press on 3 June it was too early for the surgeons to predict whether they will be able to reconstruct the muscle of his leg so he can walk unaided. He will certainly require a series of further operations.

According to some Indymedia sources the police involved were a part of the German contingent requested by the Geneva authorities, though another demonstrator posting to the internet discussion said they had "shouted in Swiss-German". The presence of German riot police in the Swiss city - that promotes itself as the "City of Peace" as well as the home of the Geneva Convention on the Laws of War - was controversial well before the protests began. Five days earlier billboards for the city newspaper Tribune de Genève was asking whether the authorities had succumbed to "G8 psychosis".

The NUJ is protesting to the Swiss authorities. London Freelance Branch arranged for Guy to be visited by the President of the Geneva Journalists' Union, to offer immediate support and advice on legal action. Guy is likely to remain in Geneva for some time.

At 7:30 on the same day police raided the Indymedia office in Geneva - apparently without a warrant - and arrested several people, though it seems that all were released by the morning. There are unconfirmed reports of yet other police forcing two photographers to remove the film from their cameras. These say that the journalists had pictures of police banging protestors' heads against the pavement.

[Site map] Posted: 2 June 2004; Last modified: 7 June 2003 - © 2003 contributors
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