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Copenhagen police detain 968 in climate change rally

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Danish police made a number of arrests during the protests

Police in Copenhagen in Denmark say nearly 1,000 protesters were detained after a huge climate change rally.

The move came after youths threw bricks and smashed windows as more than 30,000 demonstrators marched to demand action at the UN climate change summit.

A police spokesman said "almost all" of those arrested have now been released with just a few facing charges.

Similar marches have been held in cities around the world, calling for decisive action on global warming.

Meanwhile, ministers have started arriving to join other delegates at the UN summit which runs for another week.

Documents prepared by the conference's leaders call on developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 25% and 45% of 1990 levels by 2020.

AT THE SCENE
Matt McGrath
Matt McGrath, BBC News, Copenhagen

The colourful parade, with some people dressed in polar bear suits, departed Parliament Square amid tight security.

According to reports, police moved in when masked youths threw bricks and smashed windows in the centre of the city.

Denmark's parliament recently passed controversial laws giving police powers of pre-emptive arrest of anyone they believe is likely to break the law.

According to a source close to the Danish government, those people who were "pre-emptively detained" will be held for up to four hours. Those arrested will be brought before a judge within 24 hours.

EU leaders are offering developing countries a three-year deal that would pay them 7.2bn euros (£6.5bn; $10.6bn) to help cope with climate change.

The exact target for limiting temperature rise is unclear amid disputes between various blocs.

Danish police estimate that some 30,000 people joined the march while organisers put the number at 100,000.

They marched 6km (four miles) across the city to the conference centre where negotiators and ministers are meeting.

After violence erupted, large numbers of mainly young people were detained.

TV pictures showed the police putting the demonstrators in seated lines on the street with their hands tied behind their backs. They were later removed on buses.

Henrek Suhr, of Copenhagen police, told the BBC that their intelligence had suggested a small group of people had planned violence.

"We thought... these people would make a lot of trouble in Copenhagen had we not arrested them, and we arrested them because they had done a lot of things before our arrests. They smashed some windows at the foreign ministry," he said.

He rejected claims by climate protesters that some of those being held had been mistreated and denied access to basic needs.

Simon Sheikh, of the Australian social and political network "Get Up", said he had witnessed the detentions from his apartment in the centre of the city.


"The police rounded up protesters in a pre-planned manoeuvre," he told the BBC.

"It was unprovoked. They rounded up a group, including women and children, and pushed them into a store, before splitting them into groups and handcuffing them."

A police spokesman said just four or five out of 968 arrested would be charged and appear in court.

He said most of those who had been arrested had been part of an organised group which had been throwing fireworks and stones.

Activists are arguing for an ambitious, legally binding agreement on emissions cuts to be signed by world leaders at the summit's conclusion at the end of next week.

"This is the right time to shout out and let leaders know this is serious business for us all. Lets hope they listen," Lin Che, a 28-year-old student from Taiwan, told Reuters news agency.

A number of famous figures said they would join the protest, among them Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, model and photographer Helena Christensen and former UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson.

US-LED COPENHAGEN DEAL

  • No reference to legally binding agreement
  • Recognises the need to limit global temperatures rising no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels
  • Developed countries to "set a goal of mobilising jointly $100bn a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries"
  • On transparency: Emerging nations monitor own efforts and report to UN every two years. Some international checks
  • No detailed framework on carbon markets - "various approaches" will be pursued
Updated: 13:47 GMT, 19 December

In Australia, where events were held as part of the country's fifth Walk Against Warming, the largest protest was held in Melbourne.

The march closed with protesters spelling out the message "Safe Climate - Do It!" on the ground.

Organisers said aerial photographs had been taken and would be sent to delegates at the talks in Copenhagen.

In Adelaide, activist James Dannenberg told state radio: "We want [world leaders] to bring home a treaty, we want them to stand by the Pacific and our neighbours there.

"And we want them to deliver and ensure a safe climate future for us all."

Thousands of demonstrators also gathered in front of Australia's parliament house in the capital, Canberra.



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