In January 2013, in the presence of a huge crowd of supporters from a range of organisations, the Court of Dendermonde, Belgium denied 11 anti-GM activists the legal right to a defence in court. 

The activists had destroyed a GM potato field trial in Wetteren, Belgium, replacing the GM potatoes with organic, naturally blight-resistant ones. The activists became known as the Wetteren 11.

The court refused to allow defence witnesses to give their statements, and also refused to allow video footage to be shown. This is in violation of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees defendants the right to a fair trial. In response, the 11 field liberators and their lawyers unanimously decided to leave the court room.

On 12 February the court of Dendermonde handed down the sentence: the 11 potato activists were convicted of conspiracy to form a criminal gang. Commenting, Tjerk Dalhuisen, a Dutch defendant, said, "This is absurd. If the court thinks it can gag people, it is wrong. We fight for a sustainable agriculture, without genetic tinkering and without poison. We are not guinea pigs for the industry and will continue to raise our voice."

Smekens Marie, a young farmer and one of the Wetteren 11, said: "The punishments are totally excessive. It is clear that the ruling aims to silence all forms of protest in the future."

The defendants "resisted" their convictions and so the case was re-opened by the same court. The first session was scheduled for 2 April but now it has been postponed by the court. The postponement was announced just hours after the publication of a critical article on the court case by two law professors, Serge Gutwirth and Dirk Voorhoof, which appeared in the magazine Knack and the Belgian judicial magazine, De Juristenkrant.

It is not known if there is a connection between the article and the court case's postponement, but the professors wrote in their article that the activists' right to a fair trial was violated by not allowing the testimony of witnesses and video footage in the court case. 

The professors pointed out that the court had falsely stated in its verdict that the defendants had "failed to appear, and neither had anyone representing them". The professors said this was a "bizarre" claim, since the lawyers and defendants were indeed present, but later left the session because the court refused to take cognizance of video footage that could show a different version of events than the one given by the police. The court also refused to hear the witness testimony of experts on GMOs.

The professors said that the judge failed to consider the illegality of the GM potato trial, as established in a previous ruling of 1 August 2012 by the Court of Ghent. The Court of Ghent held that the authorization decision for the field trial was not properly justified, that no account was taken of the negative opinions of some experts that the step-by-step principle was neglected, and that the statutory health and environmental risk assessments for the field trial were inadequate.

The professors also said that the conviction for forming a criminal gang was ridiculous. They wrote, "We read that the police had regular contact with the group before and during the action. We hope that is not the case with real criminal gangs."