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Key criminal case

Sentence confirmed for Marie’s killer

The Vaud appeals court has confirmed the life sentence without parole given to a man convicted of his second murder, in a case that shocked French-speaking Switzerland and led to a rethinking of the correctional system.

The court president said that the man - who was not present at the hearing - was at high risk of reoffending. A psychiatric assessment had found that he had a serious and untreatable antisocial personality disorder, she said on Friday.

For its part, the defence had pushed for the possibility of parole and for the charge to be lessened to premeditated killing (with a sentence of between five and 20 years). It argued that the man was capable of change. The prosecution had called for a confirmation of the sentence handed down by a regional criminal court in March.

The case

The man was convicted of kidnapping, sexually abusing and strangling a 19-year-old woman named Marie in 2013. Their full names are withheld in keeping with Switzerland’s strict privacy laws and norms.

At the time, the man was already serving a 20-year sentence for the 2000 murder of another woman.

The crime occurred just 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 raised questions about his fitness for early release, but the judge ignored these concerns. 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. 

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