$30,000 and 9 months in prison for activists who glued themselves to famous statue

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This was the moment two environmental activists, Ester and Guido, glued themselves to the base of the famous Laocoön statue in the Vatican Museums in 2022.

Last year, a Vatican court found them guilty of damaging “a public monument of inestimable historical-artistic value.” The group they belong to, Last Generation, called the sentence “disproportionate and absurd” and appealed the Court.

But the Vatican upheld their guilty verdict and maintained the sentence. Guido and Ester must serve 9 months in prison—which could be suspended— and pay $30,000 for restoration and to cover the costs of the trial.

ESTER GOFFI
Eco-activist, Last Generation

We are aware of the damage that certain actions can cause at times but we feel that such a sentence is disproportionate.
We resorted to the these actions because the traditional ones—demonstrations, sit-ins and everything else—that have already been done in previous decades did not bring their hoped-for results. They did not receive attention.

Ester says their intention was never to damage the statue. She states Pope Francis' letter on caring for the environment had also been an inspiration for the group's actions.

ESTER GOFFI
Eco-activist, Last Generation

It is definitely something that influenced us and prompted us to make this action in the Vatican. We did not want to accuse the Vatican government of inaction. But to urge it to take a stand. We then clearly chose the work of the Laocoön, because it depicts a character from the Iliad who shouted the alarm to people.

Despite the sentence, Ester says the fight is far from over.

ESTER GOFFI
Eco-activist, Last Generation

I'm certainly sad. I wouldn't say too disappointed. However, I expected something different and we will appeal again to defend ourselves. We are clearly appealing so the pope sees what he has always reiterated: the importance of the cause we are advancing.

If Ester and Guido appeal a second time, there could be one more hearing before the Vatican Court's decision will be final.

KG

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