Supreme Court sets precedent over animal rights activist attack

Sweden's Supreme Court has upheld a landmark ruling in which a 30-year-old animal rights activist was convicted for his involvement in storming the premises of four companies and harassing members of staff.

The 30-year-old Malmö resident was sentenced on charges of aggravated unlawful entry by the Swedish Supreme Court.

In 2005, the man was contacted by members of a British animal rights organisation. The organisation had made a number of threats and carried out attacks on British company, Huntington Life Sciences (HLS), which participates in animal testing.

Along with several accomplices, the Malmö resident proceeded to engage in attacks on four of the company’s Swedish clients in September of 2005.

The 30-year-old is known to have hired one of the three minibuses which carried activists from one business location to the next. He was also responsible for ringing the doorbell and luring company employees to the door.

Once the door was opened, activists proceeded to force their way into the premises, dropping high-pitched alarms, screaming into megaphones and kicking down doors. The activists referred to company employees as ‘murderers’ and forcefully prevented them from calling the police.

One employee was on the verge of jumping through a window to escape the attack.

The 30-year-old was originally cleared by the Malmö District Court, which found that the crime was not of an ‘aggravated’ nature. But when the case was submitted to the Court of Appeal, the man was found guilty of aggravated unlawful entry – a conviction which could have resulted in a two-month jail sentence.

Instead, the Malmö resident was fined 12,000 kronor ($1,800) and ordered to pay for the cost of his defence (an additional 16,000 kronor).

The man proceeded to lodge an appeal with the Swedish Supreme Court which ruled that the crime should indeed be viewed as ‘aggravated’ and premeditated, as mini-buses had been hired in advance to move the culprits between various business locations.

The court ruling provides an important legal precedent for the protection of the workplace in Sweden, finding the violation of a workplace and disturbance of employees to be an ‘aggravated’ crime.

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‘Gratuitous cruelty’: Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab

Spanish police and prosecutors said Monday they were investigating an animal testing lab after undercover footage showed staff there tossing around, smacking and taunting dogs, pigs and other animals.

'Gratuitous cruelty': Spain probes suspected abuse at animal testing lab
Handout: Cruelty Free International

“We were dismayed to see the images,” the head of the government’s directorate-general for animal protection, Sergio Garcia Torres, told AFP.

“It is a blatant case of animal abuse.”

Footage published Thursday by Cruelty Free International shows appears to show animals at the Vivotecnia animal testing facility being cut into apparently without having received anaesthetics.

Staff were also filmed swinging dogs and rats around and in one clip someone is drawing a face on a monkey’s genitals as the animal is pinned to a table.

The group said the footage was taken by a whistleblower who worked at the facility, which is on the outskirts of Madrid, between 2018 and 2020.

“There can be no doubt that such gratuitous cruelty causes unnecessary distress and suffering,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

“It is also unlawful.”

Police and public prosecutors said Monday they had opened separate investigations into Vivotecnia, which carries out experiments on animals for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

The company’s phone number was no longer working on Monday and its web site was down for maintenance.

In a statement cited by Spanish media, Vivotecnia chief executive Andres Konig said he was “shocked” at the images. But, he added, they did not “demonstrate the day-to-day reality at Vivotecnia”.

Following the outcry caused by the release of the footage, the Madrid regional government on Sunday temporarily halted activity at the animal testing facility.

Animal rights political party PACMA has filed a lawsuit against the managers of the company and urged the government to step up its supervision of animal testing.

“It’s a very opaque world and it could be that this is happening regularly without us knowing,” PACMA president Laura Duarte told AFP.

The Vivotecnia laboratory animals were examined by veterinarians and are being moved to other facilities.