Cedric Herrou poses during the photocall for 'Libre' at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France, 18 May 2018 | Photo: EPA/I. Langsdon
Cedric Herrou poses during the photocall for 'Libre' at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France, 18 May 2018 | Photo: EPA/I. Langsdon

A French court has acquitted Cédric Herrou, who helped thousands of migrants at the border with Italy. The farmer from the country's southeast has become a symbol of help for undocumented migrants.

Cédric Herrou, the No Borders movement farmer who helped thousands of migrants at the border with Italy, called his definitive acquittal by the French Court of Cassation "the victory of the principle of brotherhood" (Fraternité), one of the cardinal values of France.

Herrou, who became a symbol for assistance to undocumented exiles, tweeted about the ruling on Wednesday. "I am definitively acquitted. After 11 arrests, five searches, and five trials in five years of fighting, solidarity is no longer a crime. Brotherhood," he tweeted.

'End to prosecutor's persistence'

Attorney Sabrina Goldman, who defended Herrou together with her colleague Zia Oloumi, also expressed satisfaction over the ruling. She said the judges' decision "puts an end to the prosecutor's persistence against Cédric Herrou."

The decision by France's highest court allows for "recognizing, finally, definitively, that he did nothing other than helping others and that in our Republic, brotherhood cannot be considered a crime" but, on the contrary, one of the highest values of the République, written in the famed motto 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité'.

Herrou still under investigation

The No Borders movement farmer from the Roya Valley, not far from Ventimiglia, has been the subject of a long judicial saga for having helped many migrants to cross the border between Italy and France. In another historic ruling in 2018, the justices agreed with him, recognizing in the name of "the principle of brotherhood" the "freedom to help others, with a humanitarian aim, without considering the legality of their stay on national territory".

At the French-Italian border, between 120 and 150 exiles have been crossing daily into Ventimiglia to ask for help from Caritas. The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture refuses to provide the number of those arrested.

Cédric Herrou isn't completely done with the justice system: he is still under investigation in Grasse, following an arrest on 23 July 2017 at the Cannes station with 156 migrants whom he was accompanying to Marseille to file an asylum request.

 

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