Global Policy Forum

Schäuble Threatens 'Preventive Custody' Arrests

Der Spiegel
May 11, 2007

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble threatened any protesters planning violence at next month's G-8 summit on the Baltic coast with arrest under Germany's preventive custody laws. His tough talk on Friday came after German police raided left-wing anti-globalization groups on Wednesday, sparking street protests in Hamburg and a number of other cities. "When some of the most important political leaders in the world meet," he said to justify the threat, "there is an elevated danger. We will do everything possible to ensure their security and take appropriate precautions."

Germany has also re-imposed border checks to clamp down on possible violent protesters from abroad. German borders are normally open, so visitors from many European Union nations don't need to show passports. A patch of land around the resort village of Heiligendamm, in Germany's far north, has been surrounded with 12 kilometers of heavy, razorwire-topped fence that reaches at both ends into the sea. Heads of state from Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia will meet inside on June 6-8. German police expect 50,000 to 100,000 protesters, most of them peaceful; but police also estimate unofficially that some 3 to 5 percent of the protesters might not just sit and listen to protest songs at a planned concert, but try to invade the summit.

"We should consider ourselves warned," said Schäuble on Friday. "During the G-8 summit at Gleneagles (in 2005) there were horrible bomb attacks in London." The simple fact that recent big events like the Football World Cup in 2006 have come and gone in Germany without mass violence "is no guarantee that we will be spared," he said. G-8 summits attracted violent protests in Genoa, Italy, in 2001 -- where police killed one protestor -- and St. Petersburg in 2006.

Militants and terrorists?

On Wednesday some 900 security officers searched 40 sites in Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony as part of two probes into anti-globalization militants. The federal prosecutor's office claimed the groups were suspected of belonging to Germany's "militant extreme-left scene" or "of founding a terrorist organization or being members of such an organization, that is planning arson attacks and other actions" in Heiligendamm. Sven Giegold, a co-founder of an anti-globalization group called Attac (the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions to Aid Citizens), called the raids "completely disproportionate," and in some cases "against the rule of law." Wolfgang Neskovic, a member of parliament from Germany's opposition Left Party, told the Berliner Zeitung that he was concerned about "methods that are reminiscient of a police state."

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