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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Swiss count cost of French summit
Police lead away injured demonstrator
Geneva has suffered three nights of unrest
The Swiss city of Geneva is mopping up after three nights of rioting by anti-G8 summit protesters.

Geneva and the nearby city of Lausanne, paid the price for being the nearest points which anti-globalisation demonstrators could reach to register their protests against the summit in the French town of Evian.

As French police sealed off all routes to Evian, it was left to the Swiss to handle the huge protests - most of them peaceful, but some of them violent.

Overnight on Monday, Swiss police and German reinforcements again battled rioters on the normally pristine city streets.

They are window breakers, but above all breakers of democracy
Micheline Spoerri, regional Justice and Police minister

They used water cannon and tear gas to drive back rioters during running battles through Geneva's business and shopping sectors.

By Tuesday, most of the violent protesters had left, leaving anger and destruction in their wake.

Residents said the city had not seen such violence in decades. The last time the city saw worse trouble was in 1932, when Swiss troops shot dead 13 people taking part in a workers' demonstration.

Some businesses accused police of responding too slowly to the unrest, and of arresting too few of the "casseurs" (wreckers).

A sum of two to three million Swiss francs (to repair damage) appears entirely plausible
Olivia Guyot
Local employers' representative

No figures were available by Tuesday of the number of people arrested, although police confirmed there had been a number of injuries.

The bill for the damage was also still being calculated, but city authorities said it would run to several million Swiss francs.

"A sum of two to three million Swiss francs (1.3 to two million euros) appears entirely plausible," Olivia Guyot, a local employers' representative told the Tribune de Geneve newspaper.

They were really tough. They went in hard and gave no quarter
Eyewitness
Some residents criticised the police for acting too violently towards the protesters, saying Swiss police have a history of tolerating protests.

"They were really tough. They went in hard and gave no quarter," one eyewitness told Reuters news agency.

Local police chief Urs Rechsteiner insisted that officers had been tackling a new type of "urban guerilla".

Sign on smashed jewellery shop
Hundreds of windows have been smashed
"They are window breakers, but above all breakers of democracy," said regional Justice and Police minister in Geneva, Micheline Spoerri.

Much of the trouble was being blamed on anarchists and even harder-line protesters dubbed anarchist "ultras", whose intention was never to protest peacefully against the summit.

French President Jacques Chirac has promised to discuss compensation for "victims of hooligans" in Geneva and Lausanne with the Swiss Government.

Business impact

"I would like to warmly thank the Swiss authorities and reiterate my full apology to the inhabitants of Lausanne and Geneva who were victims of hooligan rioters," Mr Chirac said.

France has said it will pay about two-thirds of the 16 million euro cost of the Swiss operation, although one report said a row was looming over who would pay for the damage caused.

Geneva businesses were counting the cost of lost productivity as well as damaged premises.

Some multinational businesses closed their headquarters completely for the period of the summit to prevent exposing staff to danger.

Other businesses, including banks and expensive jewellers, boarded up their windows.

Buildings targeted included United Nations agencies, petrol stations, public buildings and shops.

One estimate said a third of all shop windows in Geneva's expensive shopping district had been smashed.




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