On 23 September 2020, twelve climate activists were convicted on appeal at Vaud’s cantonal tribunal.
In 2018, the activists entered a branch of the bank Credit Suisse in Lausanne, Switzerland and started playing tennis. Their prank aimed to draw attention to the bank’s investments in companies involved in the fossil fuel industry. Tennis alluded to the marketing work Roger Federer has done for the bank.
The bank called the police and the activists were taken away. Credit Suisse then filed a complaint, which led to the activists being charged with unlawful trespass, which resulted in conviction and a fine of CHF 21,600.
The activists then appealed.
On 13 January 2020, a judge at the Tribunal de police de Lausanne, the court dealing with the appeal, overturned the original judgement. In making the ruling the judge acknowledged unlawful trespass, but also accepted there was a lawful necessity to act.
The day after this ruling the cantonal public prosecutor said an appeal would be launched against this “surprising decision” which contains political elements and goes beyond the limits of case-law.
On 23 September 2020, the cantonal tribunal decided in favour of the cantonal public prosecutor and the activists were convicted and ordered to pay small fines.
Christophe Maillard, the president of the court of appeal, said the court recognised the danger posed by global warming and that it could be considered imminent as fires such as those in Australia and California demonstrated. However, the activists had other ways, in particular political channels, to send the message rather than to protest in a bank. The action of the activists was inappropriate, according the court.
This week’s decision is unlikely to be the end of the affair. Lawyers representing the activists said before the decision that they would appeal to the Federal Tribunal and the European Court of Human Right if they lost.