Militants' march found to be legal

Neo-Nazis marching through the town of Brunnen Keystone

A magistrate has cleared rightwing extremists of marching illegally through the town of Brunnen in central Switzerland on National Day, August 1, last year.

This content was published on April 24, 2006 - 12:31

On the same day, several hundred militants also disrupted the Swiss president's speech on the nearby Rütli meadow – known as the cradle of Switzerland.

Authorities in Schwyz confirmed on Monday the extremists had been given official permission to walk through the town to reach the railway station.

An estimated 600 extremist had therefore not broken a ban on public demonstration, officials added.

At the time police did not intervene to stop the marchers who chanted rightwing slogans.

Earlier that day some of them had heckled the president, Samuel Schmid, during his National Day speech on the Rütli meadow, when he made a reference to the integration of foreigners.

However, the militants went unpunished for their action.

New rules

The organisers of the National Day celebrations have decided to limit access to the historic site on August 1 this year.

The measures include a free ticketing system to make it easier to check on the public who attend.

Last year was the tenth year in a row that rightwing extremists made the journey to the meadow on Lake Lucerne, with their numbers increasing.

This year's president, Moritz Leuenberger, said he would not give the Rütli speech, but added his decision was not influenced by the showdown with militants.

Instead Markus Rauh, the chairman of the leading telecommunications company, Swisscom, is due to be the main speaker on the Rütli.

Rauh is known for his humanitarian stance and opposes moves to tighten the laws on asylum and foreigners.

A coalition of centre-left parties and church groups is challenging a parliamentary decision aimed at forcing a nationwide vote on the issue.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

There are an estimated 1,000 rightwing militants in Switzerland, according to the Federal Police Office.

The far-right extremist Party of Nationally Oriented Swiss is represented on a local level in two communes - Langenthal and Günsberg.

According to legend, the founding fathers of Switzerland met on the Rütli meadow in 1291 to form an alliance against the Habsburgs, their feudal lords.

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