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Calls for Zurich police to get bodycams after hooligans attack officers

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Calls for Zurich police to get bodycams after hooligans attack officers
File photo: Depositphotos
19:55 CEST+02:00
Authorities in Zurich have called for police to be equipped with bodycams after officers and medics treating an injured man were attacked by a mob of up to 300 people on Saturday night.

“Shocking,” “incomprehensible” and “sad”: That is how Zurich security chief Karin Rykart described the attack near the Zurich Opera House by a group of some 200 to 300 masked individuals wearing FC Zürich football club fan gear.

The group threw stones and bottles at police and medics treating a man injured in a knife fight between two groups who were not associated with the football hooligan scene, said city police chief Daniel Blumer at a press conference on Monday.

Read also: Zurich police found not guilty in racial profiling case

The mob formed spontaneously when emergency services arrived on the scene, explained Blumer. He said the FCZ football fans had arrived back in the city from a game in Basel and had split up at the main train station before meeting up again near the opera house.

“Perhaps we underestimated the situation,” he said.

Two police officers received minor injuries in the attack, with Blumer saying it was “lucky” no police had been seriously injured.

Initially, only two police patrols were on site, but backup arrived with officers then using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Medics took refuge in their vehicles and had to wait five to seven minutes before they were able to leave the scene.

Blumer and Rykart have now both called for police to be equipped with bodycams to tackle rising violence.

In Zurich, in the first six months of 2017, there were 60 violent interludes involving police with five officers injured. In the same period this year, there were 88 such incidents with 11 officers injured.

Zurich police recently ran a two-year trial of bodycams to test their effectiveness.

Before the summer, Rykart had not publicly expressed on opinion on whether their use should be continued, but on Monday she had changed her mind.

In an interview with state broadcaster SRF on Tuesday, the man behind the Zurich bodycam trial, Dirk Baier said study results did not show bodycams could prevent or reduce incidents like that seen on Saturday night in Zurich.

But he did say many police were in favour of bodycams because they allowed for the gathering of evidence. 

It is a sentiment echoed by Blumer on Monday. During the press conference on the weekend's events, he said: “If police had been wearing bodycams on Saturday, we would have had great pictures.”

Zurich City Hall and the cantonal parliament must now approve a move to allow the city's force to become the first in Switzerland to wear bodycams. Other cantons are studying their use.

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