Portuguese climate activists must pay fine over protest, says court

Protest for climate change and against the use of fossil fuels in Lisbon
Protesters for climate change and against the use of fossil fuels shout slogans in front of a a building where, according to the local media, Portugal's Economy and Sea Minister Antonio Costa e Silva was participating in Lisbon, Portugal, November 12, 2022. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

LISBON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A Portuguese court ordered four climate activists to pay a fine on Friday for occupying a university building to protest what they perceived as political inaction around climate change.

The protesters, all students between the ages of 19 and 22, occupied a building of Lisbon's Faculty of Humanities for five days last month until police forced them to leave and temporarily detained them on Nov. 11. The court found them guilty of disobedience.

"Regardless of the causes that each one embraces, we have to do it in accordance with the rules of society," judge Antonio Calado said as he read the sentence, which can still be appealed.

According to the judge's decision, each activist must pay a fine of 295 euros ($312.61). If they are not able to pay it in one go they can either pay in instalments or do community service.

"We think it's not fair that we are being criminalised for fighting for the environment," one of the sentenced students, Ana, told RTP broadcaster outside the court. The protesters did not give their full names.

The Faculty of Humanities was one of several universities and high schools in the city that young people angry about the climate crisis occupied last month.

They also took to the streets of Lisbon and stormed a building where Portugal's Economy Minister Antonio Costa e Silva was speaking to demand the resignation of the former oil executive from the government.

($1 = 0.9437 euros)

Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Josie Kao

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