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Criminal justice Court overturns lifelong custody sentence in murder case

sketch of man

Court sketch of the man convicted of killing Marie

(© KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)

The Swiss Federal Court has overturned the life-without-parole sentence for a convicted murderer. 

The ruling comes after a local appeals court confirmed the sentence, given to a man convicted of killing a 19-year-old named Marie.

+ Why one court rejected the murderer’s appeal for a reduced sentence 

According to the Federal Court in Lausanne, the legal requirements for such as sentence were not met because just one psychiatric report had attested that the man could not be rehabilitated. For life sentences without parole, there must be two independent reports that come to such a conclusion.

The court announced its February 26 verdictexternal link on Wednesday. It, however, confirmed the need for a life sentence in this case. The man is considered too dangerous for release. Now the canton Vaud appeals court has to rule again on the issue of custody.

Background

The man was convicted of kidnapping, sexually abusing and strangling Marie in 2013. At the time, he was already serving a 20-year sentence for the murder of another woman in 2000. Their full names are withheld in keeping with Switzerland’s strict privacy laws and norms.

The crime occurred as the man was preparing for an early release from prison. He had been wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and serving his sentence under house arrest. 

An investigation later showed that his probation officer had raised questions about his fitness for early release, but the judge ignored these concerns. A transfer to a psychiatric prison was never considered. 

Public uproar surrounding the case led to debate over the correctional system, the loosening of medical confidentiality in the French-speaking cantons, and closer cooperation among the various offices involved in the justice process.

SDA-ATS/SRF/swissinfo.ch/sm

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