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No anti-racism violations Prosecutor drops probe into far-right concert

The tennis hall where the concert was held in Unterwasser, in a photo taken several days after the controversial concert

(Keystone)

The St Gallen cantonal prosecutor says it will not be opening a criminal investigation into a controversial concert held in October in a small village in eastern Switzerland, which featured Swiss and German far-right rock bands and was attended by 5,000 people.

The St Gallen prosecutor’s office saidexternal link on Friday that no criminal act could be established based on police reports following the “Rocktoberfest” concert in Unterwasser, canton St Gallen, on October 15.

That evening around 5,000 people attended a concert featuring German rock bands Stahlgewitter, Frontalkraft, Exzess, Makss Damage and Swiss group Amok, which are well known for their extreme right-wing lyrics.

The Swiss Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism (GRA) external linkfiled a legal complaint against the bands and the concert organisers for violation of Swiss anti-racism law.

The concert sparked controversy in the national media and in political circles. The local police, which was present outside the hall, however, said the event went ahead without incident, with everything organised in an “exemplary" fashion, from parking to the clean-up. The police did not enter the concert hall.

On Friday, the St Gallen prosecutor’s office said in addition to considering police reports it had also examined photos taken during the concert which were published by the Swiss press. The office said there were no indications that Swiss anti-racism law had been violated.

In 2014, Switzerland’s Supreme Court ruled that making a Nazi salute in public does not violate the country’s anti-racism law, provided the person “is only expressing their own Nazi convictions”.

The GRA said in a statement that it would examine the prosecutor's decision.

‘Deceived’

Rolf Züllig, the president of the Wildhaus-Alt St. Johann external linkcommune which includes Unterwasser, had denied the commune had given its approval to Rocktoberfest, which had initially been advertised on social media in southern Germany.

He said the local authorities had been ‘”completely deceived” as the organisers said they wanted to hold a concert with five or six young Swiss bands and 600 spectators. In reality, around 5,000 turned up.

The anti-fascist group Antifa described the concert as the “one of the biggest Neonazi events that has ever taken place in Switzerland”. It claimed the organisers were from the international white supremacist group "Blood & Honour", which is banned in several countries.

The Swiss intelligence service was reportedly aware of the concert and informed cantonal police, including the St Gallen force. But it was unable to determine the precise location of the event beforehand.

The St Gallen cantonal police had been informed that a concert of this kind was being planned in south Germany. At the last moment, ticket-holders were instructed to travel from the meeting point in Ulm in Germany to Unterwasser. The police only learned about their destination when it received reports of large numbers of cars and coaches moving towards the Toggenburg region in canton St Gallen. 


swissinfo.ch and agencies/sb

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