Tarnac ‘anarchist cell’ on trial in France over 2008 suspected rail sabotage

The “Tarnac group”, named after the village near their communal living compound in central France, has staunchly denied the charges during more than seven years of investigations.

They were rounded up in a televised police raid on November 11, 2008, a few days after steel rods were placed on overhead power cables on three TGV lines, stranding some 20,000 passengers as more than 100 trains were cancelled.

But defence lawyers claimed “anomalies” in the inquiry, most notably testimony from a supposed witness who later said he had simply signed a document prepared by the police.

Critics also accused the government under then president Nicolas Sarkozy of whipping up fears of a return of “ultra-leftist terrorism,” even though a judge eventually refused to try the Tarnac suspects on terror charges.

Instead, the group’s leader Julien Coupat, his…