There is speculation that it is the work of the same group that stole the ashes of Vasella's mother on July 27 in Chur, Switzerland. Her gravestone was defiled with "Drop HLS Now", calling on the Novartis CEO to sever its ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).
About three weeks ago, graffiti slogans against Vasella and Novartis were written on the church in Vasella's village of Risch in central Switzerland. Messages were also left on the road near Vasellas home including "Vasella is a killer. We are watching you. Death to Vasella. We'll be back."
In recent months the Militant Forces Against HLS (MFAH)  has reportedly targeted Novartis in France, burning down a sports centre, and in Germany, vandalising executives cars and homes. [2, 3, 4]
MFAH has this year targeted HLS customers Sandoz, Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer, Schering Plough and Pfizer.  The Animal Liberation Brigade  also claimed setting fire to executives cars in Switzerland. 
Grave-robbing is not a new tactic. In October 2004 the Animal Rights Militia (ARM)  – which has also targeted Novartis – claimed responsibility for removing from a grave the mother-in-law of a British farm-owner who bred guinea pigs for HLS. Darley Oaks Farm, in Newchurch, subsequently closed after the attack.
Novartis claims that it no longer contracts HLS and has not worked with them for years, but refuses to make a statement confirming this to anti-vivisection campaigners, namely Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).
A spokeswoman for SHAC denied any involvement in the recent events, but added that the organisation had many sympathisers "who support our goals".