Army chief suspended

Defence Minister Samuel Schmid has announced the suspension of the head of the armed forces, Roland Nef.

This content was published on July 21, 2008 - 09:44

Schmid made his announcement on Monday, a day after new reports emerged of details on an investigation into Nef about sexual harassment - which was later closed - ahead of his nomination as head of the army.

Schmid said Nef had until August 20 to "put all of the facts on the table". If he is unable to live up to the trust put in him by the government, Schmid said he would ask the cabinet to approve Nef's dismissal.

The current number two in the army, André Blattmann, will take over Nef's duties on an interim basis.

Last Friday, Schmid gave Nef his backing, saying he did not know any details about the sexual harrasment allegations.

Swiss President Pascal Couchepin entered the debate on Sunday saying there was no reason to doubt Nef's abilities as army chief, but added that questions remained over his personal credibility.

Nef confirmed last week that a former girlfriend had accused him of coercion – a legal term that includes stalking or harassment by email – and that a criminal inquiry against him had been underway for about 12 months.

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