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May Day unrest

Police detention of over 500 people declared legal

Zurich police have been cleared of the unlawful arrest and detention of 547 people at the May Day public gathering in 2011. The Federal Criminal Court ruled that officers were entitled to put public safety ahead of individual rights in this instance.

The court in Lausanne heard the complaint of three men who were herded up by police, bound with plastic ties and detained in Zurich on May 1, five years ago. They were taken to a police barracks with hundreds of others to determine their identity and were later released without charge.

They were then barred from entering Zurich city centre for the next 24 hours. The trio, who had been attending a Labour Day event in Helvetiaplatz, also claimed that their right to assembly, freedom of expression and movement had also been violated.

But their claims of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment were thrown out by the court that accepted that police had to act in this way to prevent potential injury to people or damage to property.

The court accepted that previous May Day events, which descended into rioting, had prompted the rounding up of potential trouble makers to prevent violence before it was able to escalate.

The three men expressed their dissatisfaction with the verdict and said they would take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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