Former top army brass faces court on embezzlement charges

Former Swiss general staff Col. Friedrich Nyffenegger went on trial at a court in Lausanne on Friday on charges of embezzlement, fraud and falsification of documents.

This content was published on September 6, 1999 - 14:43

Former general staff Col. Friedrich Nyffenegger went on trial at a court in Lausanne on Friday on charges of embezzlement, fraud and falsification of documents.

The case goes back to 1989, when Nyffenegger was in charge of the events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the start of World War II, and some official publications outlining Switzerland’s role during the years of conflict.

Prosecutors accuse Nyffenegger, 63, of having illegally pocketed nearly SFr1 million ($666,666). The charges read out in court by Deputy Federal Prosecutor Felix Bänziger included passive corruption, embezzlement, falsification of documents and the deliberate withholding of documents.

Nyffenegger as well as the three co-defendants -- two businessmen and a civil servant accused of bribery and falsification of documents -- have said they are not guilty.

During Monday’s court proceedings, the defence did not challenge the prosecution’s charges but demanded more evidence to be presented at the trial – a move criticised by Bänziger as a strategy to run out the clock.

The trial is expected to last a maximum of 18 days and is scheduled to be completed by November.

In a separate court case, Nyffenegger was given a suspended 15-month prison sentence last year for breaching military secrecy laws and military insubordination.

From staff and wire reports.

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