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Cannabis grower released from custody

Bernard Rappaz was arrested in November last year Keystone Archive

A Swiss judge has released one of Switzerland's biggest cannabis growers from police custody.

This content was published on January 25, 2002 - 12:34

Bernard Rappaz, 49, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 70 days, was jailed last November after police raided his cannabis farm in Charrat in the Valais and seized 50 tons of marijuana and other cannabis-based products. He has been in the prison unit of a Geneva hospital.

The cantonal court in Valais ruled that there was no longer a risk of collusion in the legal case involving Rappaz.

Rappaz, who styles himself as the ultimate rebel - the "William Tell" - among Swiss cannabis growers, has been on a collision course with the authorities for several years over what he describes as the legal "grey area" surrounding the drug in Switzerland.

Status in parliament

Last month the Senate approved a government proposal to allow the consumption of cannabis. If approved by the House of Representatives, the production and trade in cannabis could become legal under certain conditions.

This is the second time Rappaz has challenged the authorities by starving himself. He went on a hunger strike in 1996 but was released after 40 days.

According to his lawyer, Abu Neeman, Rappaz, who has lost 24kg, is seriously weak, needs a walking stick to move around and can only speak in a whisper.

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