Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999 - Switzerland
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism|
|Publication Date||1 April 2000|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999 - Switzerland, 1 April 2000, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4681074cc.html [accessed 25 May 2013]|
On 29 January, Swiss authorities arrested Red Brigades activist Marcello Ghiringhelli and a Swiss accomplice on suspected violations of the war materiels law. Police seized several weapons and rounds of ammunition. The trial started in La Chaux-de-Fonds in December. Italy requested the extradition of Ghiringhelli, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy.
Switzerland also was caught in the Kurdish backlash in the aftermath of Ocalan's apprehension in Kenya on 16 February. That day about 70 Kurds stormed the Greek Consulate in Zurich, taking hostage a policeman and the building's owner. The same day, 30 to 100 Kurds occupied the Greek Embassy in Bern while another 200 protesters gathered outside. The occupiers carried canisters of gasoline and threatened to immolate themselves but did not follow through. Both incidents ended peacefully.
On 19 February several Kurds took two persons hostage at the Free Democratic Party Headquarters in Bern but released them unharmed a few hours later. The Swiss Government prosecuted the hostage takers in Bern and Zurich but took no further action against the Kurdish protesters in the Greek Embassy because the Greek Embassy did not press charges for trespassing or property damage. On 20 February, PKK sympathizers carried out several arson attacks against Turkish-owned businesses and torched two trucks from Turkey in Basel. At yearend, police investigations were pending. Since February, however, PKK followers were nonviolent, focusing instead on rebuilding strained relations with the Swiss Government and lobbying Ankara to spare Ocalan's life.
Ocalan's arrest, as well as the conflict in Kosovo, gave rise to several demonstrations in front of the US Embassy in Bern. The Swiss Government took no action to ban the events because the protests were organized lawfully, although not always conducted as the organizers had promised. Bern, however, called up approximately 500 Swiss militia from March to November to guard the US and UN missions and other embassies considered to be potential terrorist targets.