On Tuesday, the Appeal Court of Aix-en-Provence handed farmer and immigrant activist Cédric Herrou a four months suspended sentence for assisting 200 immigrants in crossing the Italian border into France.
Since the last months, Cédric Herrou has become a well-known public face. From housing dozens of asylum seekers in caravans on his farm in the Roya valley, in south eastern France, to sheltering migrants last October in an unoccupied resort belonging to the national railway company SNCF, Herrou had been arrested multiple times since 2016 and has accumulated more than 3,000€ worth of fines.
He was most recently charged in July at Cannes train station for accompanying more than a hundred migrants on a voyage to register for asylum in Marseille. It is believed that prosecutors sought an eight-month suspended sentence.
Herrou is supported by several local aid groups and left-wing politicians, yet in the eyes of the right-wing president of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Eric Ciotti, Herrou’s actions are ‘dangerous’. In a statement following the ruling, Ciotti – who was criticised by the former president of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and current mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, earlier this year for refusing to back Emmanuel Macron’s bid for presidency against the Front National’s Marine Le Pen – said: “The judiciary has finally said clearly that Mr. Herrou is a criminal who is exploiting human distress. His actions are dangerous.”
Prior to entering the court, Herrou is reported to have told the media that he considers his actions to be ‘the role of a citizen in a democracy [to act] when the state is failing’, adding that he had ‘no regrets’ and would not be stopped.