Nightlife demo

Public asked to help identify rioters

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Hooded demonstrators threw flares at police during a street parade in Bern Image Caption:

Hooded demonstrators threw flares at police during a street parade in Bern (Keystone)

Bern city authorities have called on the public to provide pictures and videos of Saturday’s riots in the capital. They want to use them to take to court self-proclaimed anarchists involved in clashes with security forces.

The local council said in a statement on Monday it would bring violent demonstrators to justice and provide legal aid to shop owners who suffered material damage.
 
It also announced an investigation into the decisions taken by the local council ahead of the demonstration.
 
About 50 people, including 20 policemen, were injured in the clashes which caused damage worth several hundreds of thousands of francs.
 
More than 60 people were arrested after an unauthorised demonstration escalated around midnight on Saturday. It followed a standoff between riot police and dozens of masked and hooded people on the square in front of the parliament building.
 
Rioters smashed in windows of government buildings and shops in the city centre, daubed facades and tore down security fences. Police used water cannon and fired rubber bullets after being pelted with stones and flares.
 
The demonstration was staged by anonymous organisers via social media and attracted an estimated 10,000 people to the streets of Bern.
 
The event, the third of its kind over the past few years, was protesting against legal restrictions on the city’s nightlife in the Swiss capital.

Reveal names

Bern’s police director Reto Nause on Sunday said he hoped the state prosecutor would force Facebook to reveal the names of the authors of the street rally.
 
Some legal experts reportedly support the move. Rainer Schweizer from the University of St Gallen is quoted as saying it was in the public interest to know the organisers of a big public rally. But others doubt whether a social media network can be made responsible for the contents published by third parties.
 
The Bern cantonal prosecutor's office said legal proceedings against Facebook were an option, but not a priority.
 
Bern’s mayor, Alexander Tschäppat, told journalists he had a certain understanding for the majority of young people who call for fewer restrictions with peaceful means. However, he said the authorities had had no reason to believe that the subsequent clashes would turn so violent.
 
“Such riots must not happen again,” Tschäppät said.
 
The federal authorities on Monday announced they were pressing charges against persons unknown for damaging government buildings.

 
 
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