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Climate activists found guilty of blocking road in western Switzerland

Climate activists in Neuchâtel.
A Neuchâtel court found all 15 climate activists guilty of violating Swiss traffic laws and fined them each CHF200 as well as court costs. Extinction Rebellion Neuchâtel (facebook)

Fifteen climate activists who blocked a main road in Neuchâtel in western Switzerland in March 2020 have been found guilty and fined.

The Extinction Rebellion campaigners blocked a main road for 75 minutes on March 5, 2020 to draw attention to the climate crisis.

On Friday, a Neuchâtel court found all 15 guilty of violating Swiss traffic laws and fined them each CHF200 as well as court costs. The judge said the activists had carried out an unauthorised protest.

The official said his decision did not call into question the climate crisis. He added that each climate-related action considered by Swiss courts could result in different legal responses.

“This case is not similar to those in Fribourg, Lausanne, Geneva or St Gallen,” the judge said.

Over the past two years, Switzerland has been the scene of large climate protests. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of students marched across the country demanding stronger action on climate change. The financial sector has come under growing pressure to divest from fossil fuels.

Various cases involving climate activists blocking bank headquarters in Zurich, Lausanne, Basel and Geneva have been taken to Swiss courts in recent months.

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