Swiss court rejects appeal by climate activists who occupied bank

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's highest court has rejected an appeal by 12 climate activists convicted of trespassing at a Credit Suisse bank branch, dismissing their argument that they had taken emergency action for a just cause.

The Federal Court verdict is another setback for environmentalists hoping to win backing for the campaign, which had a surprise victory last year when a local court agreed the "imminent danger" of global warming had driven their actions.

That ruling was overturned by an Swiss appellate court, which handed the defendants suspended penalties for the November 2018 incident.

Some of them had dressed in tennis whites to draw attention to tennis superstar Roger Federer's sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse, which they want him to drop.

In a verdict released on Friday, the Federal Court said the immediate danger standard was not met in the case because the law meant this to cover events set to occur within hours.

"In this case, the urgency of global warming as such is not to be decided; it is only to be noted that at the moment of the action, there was no current and immediate danger in the sense of the criminal emergency regulation," it said in a statement.

The original court ruling in favour of the racket-wielding activists inspired other acts of civil disobedience by climate protesters, including against banks financing fossil fuel projects.

Switzerland's climate is warming at about twice the pace of the global average and changing its famed mountain landscapes.

"The Federal Court is on the wrong side of history," defence lawyers said in a statement.

"While courts around the world are finally taking up this issue and while finance has recently come under strong pressure to change its climate change practices, the Federal Court denies the urgency of climate change and refuses to see the decisive role of young activists in the historic awakening of consciousness in recent months."

The activists will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights, they said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

06/11/2021 10:18

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