On February 16, the Paris criminal appeals court decided to grant Action Directe prisoner Jean-Marc Rouillan a partial release from Muret Detention Center. The partial release period is scheduled to begin on March 7 and last for one year, after which Rouillan will be granted a conditional release.
The Paris District Attorney immediately appealed the court’s decision, as he has always done for decisions favoring Action Directe prisoners. Thus, Rouillan’s partial release may have to be postponed for a few weeks to a few months, depending on how long it takes the court to rule on the appeal.
During the partial release period, Rouillan will be allowed to leave prison during the day to go to work, but he will be subject to electronic monitoring and will have to spend nights and weekends in prison.
Rouillan was previously granted a conditional release over two years ago, but the court revoked it after 10 months, ruling that certain comments he made to the press contravened the conditional release’s speech restrictions. Those same speech restrictions, which prohibited Rouillan from speaking about the actions and events that led to his life sentence, will also apply to his upcoming partial and conditional releases.
Rouillan was imprisoned in February 1987 for his participation in the assassination of Renault executive Georges Besse and French general René Audran.
He recently released the following communiqué to mark the second anniversary of his return to prison:
Two years in prison for a few words. I, who in May ’68 opted for armed revolutionary action, am imprisoned here at the age of 58 just for speaking. How ironic! The counterterrorism magistrates thus justify the choice I made as a teenager, when like thousands of others throughout Europe, I realized that it was impossible to take revolutionary action within the limits of bourgeois politics. It seems this system won’t allow us to speak freely unless we regurgitate the pronouncements of our masters.
Blinded by their reactionary certainties and pleased with the widespread despair they cause, these judges are placing their bets on the definitive disappearance of a true far-left opposition in our countries—a class opposition able to spoil the appetites of the predators who control the fruits of the workers’ labor; an opposition coherent enough to rejuvenate the politics of the exploited. Intentionally or not, my detention reveals the fear that has always tormented the governments of the imperialist countries. It is a detention that originates from the will to annihilate any sign of a radical alternative capable of replacing the ritual customs of respectful petitions and promenading protests, the paralyzing verbal diarrhea of the “more leftism kills” crowd, the hopeless activities, the false ruptures with the system, and all the rest. Despite everything, the struggle continues: Every fight, every confrontation, every rejection carries a revolutionary alternative in its heart. I have learned from our failures. But I have never told myself that they are stronger, that nothing can be done. I have never retreated from sharing our combative experience and taking full political responsibility for our past actions. Two years in prison for a few words. This detention is based on an arbitrariness spawned by the vulgar proliferation of freedom-killing laws and decrees. Governments safeguard the impunity of hooligan bosses and millionaire thieves while increasing the number of laws that augment the severity of their coercive relationship to the exploited. Not a single year passes without a rushed (and often secret) vote to pass or amend a law that turns the screw even tighter. Extraordinary tribunals and counterterrorism squads frame the authoritarianism of this Police State and are its omnipotent expression. But these days, even “ordinary” tribunals—the ones that deport the Roma and foreign workers, acquit murderer policemen, and imprison slum-dwellers by the truckload—are introducing the arbitrary into every “ordinary” relationship between the State and its poorest subjects, coordinating with a whole stream of special squads that racially profile, search, beat, and play with their stun batons and tear gas canisters. How long will we accept the “ordinary” dictatorship of the far right? If this State were looking to give even more meaning to my militant life, it couldn’t have managed to do any better! Allow me to show my gratitude by quoting the poet Heinrich Heine: “The hatred of my enemies may serve as pledge that I have fulfilled this duty truly and honorably. I will ever show myself worthy of that hatred.” And to conclude this second anniversary, I thank—from the depths of my cell—all the comrades, friends, and people I’ve never met who include my liberation in their project of revolutionary emancipation.
—Jean-Marc Rouillan, Muret Detention Center