22 Sep 2023, 13:35
Jack McGovan

German court hands out heftiest punishment to date for climate protester, Last Generation group says

Der Spiegel / Augsburger Allgemeinen

An activist from the German climate activist group Last Generation (Letzte Generation) has been sentenced to eight months in prison without parole for taking part in a street blockade, news magazine Der Spiegel reported. The controversial protest group says the ruling by a Berlin court is the strongest sentence handed out so far to one of its members for blocking a street. Activist Caroline Schmidt received the sentence for "attempted coercion" and "obstructing police" without parole because she said in court that she intended to keep protesting, the group aruged. Schmidt had glued herself to a road on two different occasions and attempted to block traffic this way in a third incident. In Munich, proceedings against another Last Generation activist, Maja Winkelmann, were abandoned. The group’s spokesperson, Rolf Meyer, said: “The huge difference in sentencing for the very same type of peaceful protest is absurd.”

The activist group recently caused a fresh controvery by spaying orange paint on the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, drawing sharp criticism from local as well as national politicians. Volker Wissing, Germany's transport minister, warned against a radicalisation of the climate protection movement in an interview with newspaper Augsburger Allgemeinen. He called their protests a “form of terror,” adding that: "I have no sympathy for this form of protest because I think that we have to discuss in society, exchange arguments and in the end the better arguments have to prevail."

Countries across Europe cracking down on climate protests, with the UN calling for the protection of climate activists in Germany following police crackdowns.

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