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Climate activists acquitted over bank protest action

activists protesting outside UBS in 2019
The five in question were among the many activists protesting outside UBS in 2019 © Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Five environmental activists have been acquitted by a Basel criminal court of charges relating to protest action that blocked access to a UBS bank building in Basel in 2019. For some charges, there was insufficient evidence, the judge said.

The protestors had been appealing fines handed down by the Basel justice authorities for charges that included trespassing, causing damage to private property and breach of the peace. The charge of breach of the peace was dropped at the beginning of the trial. UBS had withdrawn its criminal complaint in December.

Handing down her verdict, the judge said that she considered there to be no charges in relation to the peaceful demonstration. Criminal damage was unproven for four of the five defendants and very small in the case of the fifth, the judge said.

On July 8, 2019 activists blocked the main entrance to UBS in Basel to protest against investments and projects they considered damaging to the climate and the environment. They had also daubed coal on the building’s façade and left branches outside the entrance.

Activists in Zurich also blocked the entrance to the main Credit Suisse bank headquarters in what was a coordinated day of action. More than 80 people were arrested in Zurich and Basel as a result.

In reaction to Friday’s judgement, the Collective Climate Justice group saidExternal link that it hoped that the acquittal would also be extended to the around 50 other activists concerned by court proceedings.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR