Anti-G8 groups say pre-summit demo to be peaceful


Berlin : Despite continued violence by radicals, major groups critical of G8 said Tuesday that a main demonstration four days before a summit of the world's eight rich nations in Germany would be peaceful.

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German police are preparing for a cat-and-mouse game with radicals trying to invade the June 6-8 summit, but most demonstrators are expected to gather on June 2 to voice their dissent.

The main rally will be held in the Baltic port-city of Rostock, along the coast from the sealed-off summit venue in the beach resort of Heiligendamm. Werner Raetz of Attac, a European network opposed to globalization, said protesters were mobilizing.

"Our G8 events are fully booked," he said in Berlin, adding that thousands would attend from other European nations.

Trains have been chartered from Austria and Switzerland, and Finnish leftists would come over by sailing ship.

He forecast 100,000 people at the main Saturday rally. Trade unions and Christian groups have joined the protests and all were committed to keep them peaceful, Raetz said.

Anti-G8 radicals have thrown stones, paint and petrol bombs at more than 15 homes and offices of industrialists and officials in Hamburg and Berlin in recent weeks and dozens of cars have been set on fire.

Early Tuesday, fire gutted the private car of Kai Diekmann, editor of Germany's biggest-selling daily paper, Bild. Police have made no arrests and the claims of responsibility have been anonymous.

Raetz said such "illegal activities" had nothing to do with legitimate demonstrations.

German political parties critical of the G8 have complained that a ban on demonstrations within 200 metres of a fence around the summit venue and at Rostock airport was a breach of basic rights.

Claudia Roth, co-leader of the Greens, said Tuesday: "It's absurd that 'democracy' needs a fence around it to protect itself from the people."