Policeman injured at pagan procession

Policeman injured at pagan procession
A man dressed for the Perchtenlauf. Photo: Osttirol Werbung/Böhm
A policeman has been seriously injured after a brawl broke out at a traditional Perchtenlauf procession in Landeskron, near Villach.

The procession – which is traditionally held to banish winter and evil spirits – had been running smoothly until two young men (20 and 21) started fighting. Police tried to break up the drunken youths but they resisted.

One policeman came away with a broken rib and a second policeman was head butted, suffering a split lip.

The two young men were arrested and questioned by police on Sunday in Villach, Carinthia. 

As soon as they had sobered up they apologized for their violent behaviour, police said. The case has been passed to the state prosecutor who will decide if they should be charged.

The so-called Perchten dress like devils – with young men donning weird masks, furry costumes and bells round their waists. They beat drums and make noises to scare away evil spirits. The custom is thought to date back to pagan times.

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