Vigilante Justice, Swiss-Style: Website Tracks Foreigners 'Wanted, Dead Or Alive'

A right-wing politician wants the public's help hunting for foreign-born criminals in Switzerland. Echoing the outrage in the U.S. over the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin, Swiss critics say this is the most dangerous kind of racial pro

Screenshot of Frommenwiler's website
Screenshot of Frommenwiler's website
Franziska Kohler

ZURICH - According to local Zurich radio station Radio 24, a banner reading: "Wanted – Dead or Alive" was posted this week on the homepage of a Swiss website that prides itself on "naming perpetrators." Under this headline, photographs of foreigners being sought by Swiss police were posted, along with personal details and information about their alleged crimes. The content was lifted from a local police website.

Following the show, a Zurich lawyer brought charges of "public incitement to criminal acts and violence" against the operator of the website, Willi Frommenwiler. Frommenwiler is the president of right-wing political party Auto-Partei Bern and has been in court several times on charges of racist acts.

Frommenwiler himself had not yet been informed about the latest charge against him when contacted by the Tages Anzeiger. He created the website five years ago, he said, because he was dissatisfied with the way Swiss police were handling foreigners accused of criminal activity in Switzerland.

"If the police don't have a handle on criminal foreigners, then citizens have to take action," he said. Frommenwiler isn't surprised the "Dead or Alive" title on the site could be problematic. "If you're not allowed to say things like that anymore -- well then, frankly, I don't know where things are heading."

Brigitte Tag, a professor of criminal law at the University of Zurich, sees things differently. "The headline can be viewed as an encouragement, even an incitement to commit acts of violence against the people listed on the site," she says.

Vigilante justice

Not only is the title in itself problematic, she adds – so is the homepage. "It encourages private citizens to track down alleged criminals. This can lead to dangerous situations -- innocent people being mistaken for perpetrators and arrested by other citizens, but also, alleged criminals having their rights trampled."

Peter Breitschmid, a professor of civil law at the University of Zurich, considers the content of the site as "quite sensitive." First of all, by law, privately compiled data has to be registered before it is publicly disclosed if it contains material deemed worthy of protecting, which would apply in the case of a police appeal for public help, the professor explained.

Secondly, the list is "quasi-official" in nature and gathered from third-party sources, not personal research, so copyright is also an issue. And thirdly, says Breitschmid, control over this information was legitimately in the hands of the police – and not intended for private distribution.

After the radio 24 report, the "Dead or Alive" headline and photographs were taken offline, as were some of the individual profiles, like the one of a woman being sought for violation of debt laws. Her profile had been placed alongside those of thiefs and drug dealers.

Radio 24 reports that local police have contacted Frommenwiler. When asked about this, Daniela Sigrist, spokesperson for the Bernese Cantonal Police, had no comment about the exact nature of police enquiries. The operator of the website has been contacted, she confirmed, because the police want to make him aware of "certain potentially sensitive issues, also in a preventive sense."

Read the original article in German in Tages Anzeiger

Photo- Screenshot of Frommenwiler's website

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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