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Controversial colonel dies

A controversial former colonel in Switzerland’s intelligence service has died in Ireland, according to an obituary notice in a Swiss newspaper on Wednesday.

Albert Bachmann had been a communist as a young man, but later became a convinced cold warrior. In 1976 he set up a secret army of about 2,000 men and women whose task was to resist any foreign occupation force.

They were trained in guerrilla tactics, including laying bombs, “silent killing” and sharp shooting.

He owned property in Ireland where he built holiday villas to which the Swiss government could have fled in case of war, and arranged for the gold reserves of the National Bank to be flown out of the country in Swissair planes should it ever become necessary.

When these secret activities came to light in 1979, a scandal erupted. The then defence minister, Georges-André Chevallaz was furious and Bachmann was forcibly retired.

An investigation into the case, some of whose conclusions were published in 1981, found that he had not been a double agent.

On being pensioned, he went to live in Ireland.

His family said he died after a short illness on April 12. He was 81.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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