Authorities and protesters proclaim G-8 a success

Police arrested over 300 violent protesters in Lausanne and Geneva Keystone

Switzerland's authorities and organisers of Sunday's anti-globalisation demonstration say the G-8 summit has been a success.

This content was published on June 2, 2003 - 15:55

But they expressed regret that the event was marred by a number of violent incidents that took place on the sidelines of this weekend's peaceful anti-G8 protests.

There had been fears that Sunday's protest march from Geneva to the French border would become a battlefield for police and demonstrators.

However, aside from some outbreaks of violence, the anti-G-8 demonstrations involving between 50,000 and 100,000 people were largely peaceful.

"The demonstration was a success for the anti-globalisation movement," Juan Tortosa of the Lake Geneva Social Forum told swissinfo.

"There have never been that many people on the streets of Geneva."

Incidents lasted for nine hours, with police dispersing the crowds with water cannon, tear gas and rubber pellets.

Shop windows were smashed in the centre of the city, as some protesters looted pharmacies, petrol stations and other shops.

Shop owners in Geneva and Lausanne reckon the bill for the damage will run into millions of francs. The Geneva shopkeepers have warned they could file charges against those responsible for the damage.

Security operation

The Swiss army, which was responsible for security within specific zones along Lake Geneva, said it was satisfied with the security operation for the G-8.

Around 5,500 soldiers were mobilised for the summit in the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais over the weekend, with another 1,400 on standby.

But army spokesman, Daniel Reist, told swissinfo that he regretted the violent incidents in Lausanne and Geneva.

"It's a shame that a few hundred people have distorted the overall positive image given by Sunday's peaceful demonstration," he told swissinfo.

Costs for the army are expected to run SFr6.2 million ($4.75 million), 50 per cent more than originally budgeted.


Meanwhile, Geneva police are still holding 25 people out the 50 apprehended at an alternative culture centre in the city on Sunday. Those in custody are suspected of theft, vandalism, rioting and using violence against police officers.

In Lausanne, three protesters are still in prison after the police arrested 287 people on Sunday, most of them at an anti-globalisation camp.

Half of them were Swiss, while the rest were mostly German, French and British.

The police released most of the people taken into custody after being unable to prove they had taken part in violent incidents.

Pierre Aeppli, the security coordinator for the G-8, told swissinfo he did not wish to comment on the weekend's events.

swissinfo, Elvira Wiegers (translation: Scott Capper)

Key facts

Between 50,000 and 100,000 demonstrators took part in Sunday's anti-globalisation march according to organisers.
Over 5,000 soldiers were mobilised for security purposes in cantons Geneva, Vaud and Valais.
Over 300 demonstrators were questioned by police following violent incidents in Geneva and Lausanne.

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