Court clears environment protesters over stunt at Swiss bank


GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss court on Monday cleared a dozen climate activists of any wrongdoing in a trial related to their storming of a Credit Suisse office in Lausanne, Switzerland, and playing tennis inside — part of a protest against the bank’s investments in fossil fuels that has ensnared its brand ambassador Roger Federer.

Lawyer Aline Bonard, among a legal team deployed to defend the Lausanne Climate Action activists, said the court in suburban Renens acquitted the defendants over the stunt that riffed off Federer’s role with the bank.

The defendants had refused to pay fines handed down after the incursion at a Lausanne office of the Swiss bank in November 2018. Inside, wearing tennis dress, the activists whacked tennis balls. Environmentalists have used the case to press Swiss star Federer to break his connection with Credit Suisse.

The trial was billed as the first of its kind in Switzerland. The bank had argued that it could not tolerate “unlawful attacks” on its branches.

Lausanne Climate Action says Credit Suisse is one of the top banks worldwide to invest in fossil fuels, making available more than $7.8 billion to nearly four dozen companies that are said to be “extreme” users of dirty fossil fuels and multiplying 16-fold its financing for coal from 2016 to 2017.

Credit Suisse said in a statement that it “takes note of the verdict and will analyze it.”

Last week, the bank said combating global warming is “important” and that it has recently announced “in the context of its global climate strategy that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired power plants.”

It also said that it “respects freedom of expression as a fundamental democratic right” but that it “does not tolerate unlawful attacks on its branches, irrespective of the perpetrators and their motives.”

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