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France Big Mac Vandal Trial Begins

July 1, 2000

MILLAU, France (AP) _ A public prosecutor on Saturday recommended that a sheep farmer who has waged a high-profile battle against globalization receive a 10-month suspended sentence for vandalizing a McDonald’s restaurant in this southern French town.

Jose Bove was on trial with nine other defendants who attacked the Millau fast food restaurant last August during a wave of protests targeting the fast-food chain as a symbol of American trade ``hegemony″ and economic globalization.

Prosecutor Alain Durand also recommended that Bove spend 18 months on probation. Bove said he would appeal any sentence and vowed to continue his battle internationally.

``The combat will not stop at France’s borders,″ said Bove, spokesman of the radical Farmers’ Confederation union, who made headlines in December when he brought his anti-globalization message to the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle.

Prosecutor Alain Durand requested that the nine other defendants receive suspended sentences of no longer than three months, saying they merely carried out Bove’s plans.

After the hearing, about 11,000 supporters gathered to greet the 10 defendants as they left the courtroom.

The Millau court began hearing arguments on Friday as about 15,000 demonstrators gathered to support the defendants. Later that night, a concert to mark the trial drew about 45,000 anti-globalization supporters.

The court is expected to deliver its decision Sept. 13.

Bove’s battle began last year when the United States slapped sanctions on food products ranging from Roquefort cheese to foie gras in retaliation for the European Union’s decision to ban imports of U.S. hormone-treated beef.

The mustachioed sheep farmer has said his main targets are the World Trade Organization, multinationals and governments that push scientifically engineered food. He says the organizations crush the small-time producers who insist on quality and taste.

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