Zurich District Judge Barred From Climate Cases For Bias

Zurich District Judge Barred From Climate Cases For Bias

Fri, Apr 26th 2024

Keystone/AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

A judge at the District Court of Zurich is no longer allowed to judge climate activists. The Federal Supreme Court has declared him biased. He has shown solidarity with them.

In September 2022, the now suspended district judge acquitted a climate activist from “Extinction Rebellion” of the charge of coercion. The woman was involved in a street blockade in the centre of Zurich.

At the sentencing hearing, he told her in front of the audience that she should not be intimidated. “Keep up the good work.” He also told the climate activist’s children that they could be “proud of their mother”.

Solidarity with Climate Activists

In its ruling published on Friday, the Federal Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the judge had quite obviously shown solidarity with the climate activists.

In doing so, he had, consciously or unconsciously, created the impression that his freedom to form an opinion – also in future, similar cases – could be impaired.

The Federal Supreme Court therefore considers it right that he should recuse himself from climate cases. The request to withdraw him from such cases came from the Zurich public prosecutor’s office, which has repeatedly brought climate activists to court for several years.

“Standing Up For Your Views”

During questioning for the proceedings, the judge in question emphasised that he had of course not asked the climate activist to take part in rallies again in future.

He merely wanted to say that it is important to stand up for your views as long as this is done without violence and within the bounds of what is permitted.

The judge himself appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. However, the court came to the conclusion that he was not authorised to appeal.


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