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Vasella targeted by animal rights activists

Published on 06/08/09 at 01:22pm

Animal rights activists are believed to be behind two attacks on Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella.

The first attack came on 27 July when the grave of Vasella's mother in eastern Swiss city of Chur was desecrated and the urn containing her ashes was stolen.

The message, 'Drop HLS Now' - referring to UK animal laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences - was painted in red letters on the gravestone.

This has now been followed by an arson attack on Vasella's holiday home in Bach, Austria.

Other cases of anti-vivisection graffiti have been reported in the area in recent weeks, which has not suffered from such attacks in the past.

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) is the best known animal extremists group, but has denied any responsibility for the attacks, and police in Switzerland and Austria have not named any suspects.

SHAC launched a campaign to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences in the 1999. The tactics of intimidation and violence against HLS escalated in the following years, spreading out to anyone who lent money or did business with the firm. New UK laws and the prosecution of four activists in 2006 have helped reduce the number of violent attacks in recent years.

Despite this, SHAC has declared the last week of August as a 'top customer week of action' and has named AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis as the target for protests.

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