Activists Torch Drug CEO's Home, Steal Mom's Ashes

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2009 2:58 AM CDT
A man passes the logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis at the company's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.    (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt )
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(Newser) – Animal rights militants have torched the home of the CEO of drug giant Novartis and stolen his mother's ashes from a Swiss cemetery, say company officials. Employees' cars have also been vandalized and attacked with crude explosive devices, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The message "Drop HLS Now" was found on the gravestone of CEO Daniel Vassella's mother, a message believed to be a reference to British animal-research lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. Novartis officials say, however, that the company has not done business with Huntingdon for many years and that while it does still do some animal testing, it has taken "strong steps" to reduce the number of animal used and switch to computer-generated models.