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Stillbirth Border guard in court over refugee tragedy

The defendant in the case was responsible for the border guard unit which escorted the Syrian woman and allegedly ignored her pleas for help (courtroom sketch)

(Keystone)

A trial is underway of a Swiss border guard accused of causing a Syrian woman’s stillbirth after failing to answer pleas for medical help.

The woman, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was among a group of migrants on a train from Milan (Italy) to Paris (France) passing through Switzerland in 2014.

They were ordered to return to Italy escorted by a unit of Swiss border guards. The woman, travelling with her husband and young children, started bleeding after her waters broke early. Her husband’s repeated pleas for help were ignored, according to the prosecution.

It is not yet clear exactly what the defendant will be charged with, but he could face between three to 20 years in prison if found guilty of a variety of possible offences.

The defendant has denied any responsibility in the death of the unborn child.  

The woman was only taken to hospital when she collapsed after being transferred across the border to Italy. Her baby was later stillborn.

The family, which has been given asylum in Italy, now lives in Germany.

A verdict by the military court in Bern is expected on Friday.

Observers say the trial could lead to further legal proceedings against members of the Swiss border guard unit implied in the case.

swissinfo.ch with agencies/urs

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