Jailed student exam plea

June 30, 1995

Protest is mounting in France over the continued detention of a student facing charges of associating with terrorists.

Alexis Corbire is accused under tough new anti-terrorism laws of having given shelter in 1993 to members of the Spanish Basque separatist group, ETA. Supporters say he "will see years of study destroyed" if he is unable to sit examinations.

He was picked up for questioning on June 13 and is jailed under conditions usually reserved for criminals. His MP's request to visit him went unanswered.

Corbire's defence committee says there is no need to keep him in jail when he has a crucial examination coming and does not represent a danger to the public.

But the courts have rejected the appeal for Corbi re to be released on bail, which would have enabled him to sit the viva for his CAPES, the competitive school-teaching certificate.

Students study for the CAPES after passing a bachelor's degree and the number of successful candidates is restricted to the number of new teaching posts available.

Academic staff at the Paris VIII University teacher training centre and fellow students say his detention is "arbitrary and completely unjustified".

More than 20 organisations and dozens of personalities have joined the campaign for his release. A committee of teachers wrote to the judge to express astonishment at the "disproportionate scale of the procedure".

The student union, UNEF-ID, to which Corbire belongs, is now trying to get his viva put back until after July 4, which is the next date set for the judge to examine his case.

"Personally, I am sure he is innocent and will be released. But in any case, the campaign position is that his detention is not justified, given the charges," commented UNEF-ID general secretary Olivier Daronnat.

According to UNEF-ID, that position is shared unanimously by students, university staff and even the rector of the education authority.

The magistrate's union and the international federation of human rights have also voiced support for the defence committee.

A petition and a postcard campaign are being organised.

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