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POLICE

Swiss police clear months-long quarry protest

Swiss police on Tuesday swooped down on environmental protesters who have been occupying a quarry owned by Franco-Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim for months to protest against its plans to expand the site.

Swiss police clear months-long quarry protest
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

A large contingent of police, many in riot gear, descended on the Mormont site in La Sarraz in the western canton of Vaud early Tuesday, asking the some 200 activists to leave or be removed by force.

The activists set up camp at the site in October, warning of the environmental and ecological consequences of Lafarge-Holcim’s plans to expand the quarry.

The company and the La Sarraz municipality had filed legal petitions to remove the activists, and the police operation came after the protesters’ legal appeals were rejected.

The move to clear the outer limits of the camp went off peacefully, but as the officers went towards a farmhouse at the centre, some protesters threw rocks and threw fireworks, an AFP photographer said.

“It is a high-anxiety situation. But we want to stick it out as long as possible,” one of the demonstrators told the ATS-Keystone news agency shortly before being evacuated by police.

The regional police said one police officer had been slightly wounded but none of the activists were injured.

By evening, police had detained 29 people, 12 of whom were taken into custody in nearby Lausanne.

A number of the activists remained up in trees or on the farmhouse roof, singing and shouting slogans against LafargeHolcim.

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CRIME

Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

Swiss authorities have sent an 84-year-old bank robber to prison. The man, who robbed the same bank twice, had hoped his age would see him avoid sentencing.

Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

A court in the Swiss canton of Lucerne has jailed an 84-year-old man for two years and four months for two bank robberies stretching back across the past decade. 

The man, named in Swiss media as Willi P, has been given a partially suspended sentence and will only need to serve six months. 

The man robbed a bank in Meggen in 2012 and in 2017, stealing around CHF13,000 in total. 

He threatened the bank’s employees with a folding pocket knife placed inside a plastic bag to look like a gun. 

The man avoided jail in 2021 when the case was brought to court, with the judges saying he was too old. 

This time, the cantonal court disagreed. 

“According to the case law of the federal court, even a relatively old age does not in principle justify a particular sensitivity to punishment, which must be taken into account to reduce the sentence,” the court said. 

READ MORE: Why do foreigners ‘commit more violent crimes’ than the Swiss?

Willi P was remorseful, telling the media he was “heartbroken” by what he had done, telling the press his wife had no idea about the robberies. 

“I’m really sorry for everything and felt heartbroken. Afterwards I said to myself: Hey, you are stupid! Why do you still have to do something like this at this age?”

The man pleaded with the court not to sentence him, saying “I’ve been punished enough with my poor health. I am sorry.”

While the court noted that due to the man’s advanced age he may die in jail, this was not enough of an exceptional circumstance to prevent the sentence. 

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