France. Telephone interview with Claudio Lavazza

March 6, 2022
(Taken from Radiocane)
Q: Listeners have probably already had the opportunity to learn about the events that you have lived throughout your long imprisonment in Spanish jails from reading your biography. Let’s start now with the case that led to your current detention in France. What facts does this case refer to?
A: Yes, I have a 10-year sentence set by the Paris Criminal Court on November 8, 2019, for armed robbery and kidnapping. This sentence was recently reduced, a week ago, to five years. And my release date is scheduled for May 16, 2025, so three years from now. This is due to a calculation of the credits for sentence reduction made by the Mont-de-Marsan Prosecutor’s Office, starting from 30 years instead of 25 as the legal limit for the accumulation of sentences in the Spanish system. Well, if this limit had been established by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, if this limit had been enforced, I would have had to be released

immediately. Instead, she changed her mind, because she decided that French law should now be applied. A doubly wrong analysis, as my lawyer has already told you in a letter. Technically, it is explained in this way only to understand, in fact, if article 132-23-1 of the French penal code says that convictions pronounced by the criminal jurisdictions of the European Union must be taken into account, on condition that they do not aggravate the situation of the convicted. The legal limit of 30 years of accumulation in French law would therefore be “valid”, in quotations, if I had been sentenced to life imprisonment. This limit would be reduced to 20 years if my sentence had been 30 years, but it is 25 years! So the deliberate error of the prosecutor is obvious. It is Article 362-2 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure. Technically it is quite simple to understand, but when there is a political will behind it that opposes freedom, everything becomes vindictive.

Q: Can you update us on your situation regarding the residual sentence to be served in France, specifically, with your defense attorney- what procedure have you agreed upon to face the attempts of the French justice system to prolong this odyssey of yours?
A: The procedure we have adopted with the lawyer is a letter submitted to the Prosecutor of which I spoke to you before. Then an appeal was lodged with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Pau, and now we are waiting what the judges’ response. In short, the prosecutor relieved herself of a burden, entrusting the responsibility for my release to the Court of Appeals of the Pau Public Prosecutor’s Office. She simply did not feel like taking responsibility. If she had done so at the beginning of my detention here in France, instead of waiting 9 months, it would have saved us a lot of headaches. Yes, because at the beginning, in a letter dated November 12, 2021, sent to the liaison magistrate in Madrid, she admitted that if the legal limit for the accumulation of sentences in Spanish law was 25 years, she had to release me immediately. Assuming that Spanish law had the chance to be applied. Clearly, as I said at the beginning of the interview, she totally changed her mind. I will send the appeal that was filed, the letter to the Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, there is the proposal of my lawyer, which I have seriously considered, to ask in parallel for a measure of parole and also a “continuation” of the sentences. But first let’s wait for what the judges of the Audience of Pau say, then we will see.
Q: We have seen on the one hand the appeals and judicial processes, and on the other hand the mobilization of solidarity of those who want you to be released immediately. Do you think that what can be done here influences the decisions of those who still keep you behind bars?
A: Solidarity mobilization… it’s good! Very good! On the contrary. I read the writings and the printed posters… you all did a very good job! Let’s say we are in a land of lawsuits, of which I agree with the strategy to use to get them to apply their articles of law, which were already recognized in a case very similar to mine, and that my lawyer had obtained not without some difficulties from the Court of Appeals of Versailles, the “Frigerio” affair. Only yesterday my lawyer found a sentence, the second one, of another case a little like mine, and sent it to the judges of Pau. This situation of lawsuits makes me laugh… the legality of the domination system is not in our nature, and gives us a stomach ache as always. But still we show you that those who “skip over” the laws are the ones who made them and not us.
Q: Let’s go back to Spain for a moment. At the end of your imprisonment in that country, you were hit by an expulsion decree. Can you give us some details about this provision? Have you taken legal action to oppose or cancel it?
A: At the beginning yes, at the beginning when I was still in Spain we took some initiatives with a public defender who was assigned to me, but then I was sent here to France and for the moment we have not done anything in that sense. I think this will be done when the time comes; at the moment I have other headaches.
Q: We note that for unrepentant political prisoners not only are special laws applied as has happened in the past, but the state is creating a regime of exception where all its hostilities are permitted. We have seen it happen recently also in Greece, with the hunger strike of Dimitris Koufondinas, we see it happening again with your case. What do you think should be the response of the political prisoners and the anarchist movement? How do you think an international struggle can be organized to ensure that at least the recognized rights of political prisoners are applied?
A: First of all it must be said that we must focus on protests and mobilizations, as I said before, in my particular case they are good, in fact I receive many letters of solidarity that make me feel less alone. In fact, it must be said that I have never been alone in all these years in prison. This time, however, the solidarity you all give me is the most important thing, because it is about freedom. And I take this opportunity to thank everyone. There are so many letters that in the end, I don’t know…, they will get tired of receiving them, it will be the penitentiary authorities who will ask the judges to send me out so that they don’t get pissed off anymore. As for mobilizations, in general, I think that each of us knows, case by case, how to move in this area. My situation is not extreme, okay, there are years, 25 years and they are not recognizing an article of the law, that is what they generally do and therefore… each one of us must evaluate our personal situation. I think that in principle, the protests, the mobilizations from this legal point of view, are perfectly logical, right? And then, well, I am not in a situation of imminent danger to my life, I am not on hunger strike, I am not in the last minute, I do not have a serious illness. So, let’s say there is no such urgency in my case. It only remains to wait, to be patient and to move on this legal ground, for the time being, of course. So yes, there are comrades who cannot wait, their lives are in danger and therefore, maybe we have to make a little more political pressure. But well, in my particular case I think it is very good.
Q: Listen, to close this talk, let’s go back for a moment to the realm of daily prison life that you are living. What differences, if any, can you see between the French and Spanish prison systems? Do you notice any differences in the composition of the prison population that you have had the opportunity to meet?
A: Basically the differences between French and Spanish prisons… I am currently in a “respect module” as I was in Spain, and it is not bad at all. The difference here is the exaggerated administrative slowness. France is the country where you have to be very patient to have your rights recognized. Here, as everywhere else in the world, speaking of prison, the best way not to go to prison is never to enter it, but if you are in it, as I like to say remembering the old days, “he who fights can lose, he who does not fight has already lost”. Differences with inmates… basically there is not a big difference. There are personal situations where there are people, prisoners who oppose injustices with their means, but they are always individual and isolated situations. There is no group presence where, faced with situations of injustice, everyone takes an interest, blocking radios, stopping buses… for the moment here where I am, I have not seen anything like that. Administrative differences at the level of control and repression… for example, here the letters are delivered open, that is to say that they cannot be closed, because they read them and photocopy them and send them to the judge. If they are in a foreign language, they translate it and then send it to the recipient. In Spain, however, only the judge can authorize the opening of these letters. From a forensic point of view, if you have, I don’t know, toothache, before they pull your tooth out… good night… months go by. In Spain there is a paid service, if you have a lot of pain you can resort to this means, with fifty euros they take out the tooth. Here, however, this service does not exist and you have to wait for the painkillers to arrive. There was a period of overcrowding. I was in a cell alone, a small cell, when I was told that I would be put with another prisoner, forced to sleep on the floor, because there is only one bed in the cell. So every night we drew lots to see who was going to sleep on the bed and the other on the floor. I asked the lawyer to report it to the warden and to the institute that deals with prison bosses. After four days I got the answer, they changed my module and now I live alone in a cell, like everyone else. When you get the lawyer to move, the administration takes you into consideration, but if you don’t have a lawyer, you can only watch the grass grow… you risk waiting months with another prisoner in a single cell. Then I should mention that I had already been sentenced and for more than seven months I was living like prisoners who had not yet been tried. So the change of form only worked to denounce the fact of being two in a cell of one. Now here it is a little better than the other module where I was before, instead the problem is that the whole module is confined by the virus. A while ago they closed my cell telling me that this module here, CD 1, is confined for the time being. So yesterday it spread, of course, as it will, because it has no barriers. In general there is not much difference, in fact here in France they have copied the principle of the “respect module” from Spain. The respect module is a somewhat particular module, where you have certain obligations, certain duties, certain habits, behaviours. For example, the obligation to have 25 hours of activity per week which you choose, the activities that exist are infinite. I am doing many hours of activity so as not to stay in the cell. I do sports… frankly, it is better here than in other places, but well, prison is prison… I wanted to sincerely thank everyone for their presence, give a hug to everyone!
Translated by Act for freedom now!
via: publicacionrefractario