Court Remands Greenpeace Protesters at Novaky Mine in Custody

Novaky Mine. (Stock photo by TASR)

Prievidza, December 2 (TASR) – Twelve Greenpeace activists from several countries who on Wednesday climbed a mining tower at Novaky (Trencin region) mine with banners to protest against coal mining in Slovakia will be prosecuted while in custody, Prievidza (Trencin region) District Court decided on Sunday.

The judge said that there are well-founded concerns that the activists, if released, could engage in similar moves, given that their activities against Upper Nitra Mines have recently had an “escalating trend”, with Wednesday’s protest resulting in the suspension of mining activities at Novaky for five hours.

“For the first time ever in Slovakia environmental activists are to be dealt with in custody for a non-violent action that didn’t see anyone injured, or any property damaged. This is a measure ordinarily used with dangerous criminals who could continue in their criminal activities or flee from justice,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Ivana Kohutkova.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) wrote on Facebook later in the day that while he doesn’t share Greenpeace’s opinions on coal mining in the Upper Nitra area and disagrees with its methods, “it should be considered whether it’s really the best possible move to remand twelve young people in custody”.

Meanwhile, TASR on Sunday also received written statements criticising the court’s move from Opposition parties Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and OLaNO, plus extraparliamentary parties Progressive Slovakia, Together and the Christian Democrats (KDH).

Liberal parties SaS and Progressive Slovakia slammed the verdict as an attack on the freedom of speech, with OLaNO stating that the protest took place at a company linked to bribery scandals and that its aim was the protection of public health. ‘Together’ said that “these young people didn’t intend to endanger anyone”, while KDH believes that the move was aimed at intimidating “the few remaining people who are willing to do more than angrily bang glasses of beer on [pub] tables”.