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Eco-terrorists have Switzerland and Italy in sight

Firefighters inspect the damage in Abetone

(Keystone)

Swiss embassies in Italy are on the alert following a series of bomb attacks in Tuscany linked to a group fighting for the release of Swiss eco-terrorist, Marco Camenisch.

Camenisch is currently behind bars in Pfäffikon maximum-security prison near Zurich following his extradition from Italy.

The alert follows a spate of explosions that have destroyed a ski-lift station in Abetone and two electricity generators at Marina di Pietrasanta and Castiglioncello.

An anonymous handwritten letter sent to the Italian news agency, Ansa, has since claimed responsibility for the Abetone attack and expressed solidarity with Camenisch.

It has also been revealed that graffiti praising the 51-year-old Swiss was found at all the targeted sites.

Support

Supporters of Camenisch have also surfaced at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos. The authorities at nearby Chur have reported finding a number of posters calling for his release and protesting against the WEF.

Camenisch, who is currently on hunger strike, has called upon his supporters to take radical action in a statement posted on his personal website.

The eco-terrorist and anarchist, who comes from Campocologno in canton Graubünden, was arrested in Italy in 1991 and later condemned to 12 years in prison for attempted murder and a series attacks against high-voltage power lines between 1989 and 1991.

Last April, Camenisch was extradited to Switzerland where he is wanted in connection with the murder of a border guard and other offences.

Tension rises

“We raised the level of security following the last attacks. Since Wednesday evening, police have provided 24-hour surveillance in front of the Swiss Centre, which is where our offices are,” said Marco Cameroni, the general consul at Milan.

The Swiss ambassador to Rome is also worried by the turn of events.

“We already had a demonstration of anarchists in front of our embassy last year,” ambassador Giancarlo Kessler told swissinfo.

“Nothing really happened, but there was a police presence. But now with the Camenisch question raising its head at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, we’ve reinforced our security measures.”

At risk

A recent article in the Italian weekly, “Panorama”, based on information from Milan police, reported that Swiss interests in Italy could also be targeted by anarchists. This follows a series of letter-bomb attacks last December in Milan, Rome and Barcelona.

Panorama said the attacks could be related to Camenisch’s extradition to Switzerland on April 18 last year.

No official comment could be obtained from the Italian police, but it is understood that they are watching out for further developments.

Protests from afar

A campaign to free Camenisch has been gaining force over the past few months.

According to Panorama, there were protests calling for the freeing of Camenisch at the Social Forum in Florence in November, where the Swiss consul received a police escort.

There were similar scenes on September 13 last year when Italian anarchists marched through a dozen cities including Milan and Rome.

On the same day, anarchists brandishing flags and stones demonstrated outside the Swiss embassy in Madrid.

Developments

Cameroni says that there have been more recent and worrying developments.

“Recently graffiti praising Camenisch, similar to what was written on the walls in Abetone, has appeared on the walls of the building housing the Swiss consul in Genoa and on the walls of its neighbours,” he said.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office was unable to confirm whether security measures had been agreed with the Italian authorities.

The Federal Police Office was equally reluctant to reveal what measures - if any - had been taken. Bern says that according to the Vienna Convention, the host country is responsible for the security of foreign embassies and diplomatic personnel.

swissinfo, Paolo Bertossa in Rome (translated by Isobel Johnson)

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