Heavy jail terms for killers of teenager

The 25-year-old French-Algerian defendant (centre) was sentenced to 19 years in prison Keystone

Two men have received lengthy jail sentences for stabbing and beating to death an 18-year-old youth at a railway station in western Switzerland two years ago.

This content was published on June 20, 2005 - 20:05

The murder, which occurred at a time of rising fears over youth violence, caused a major outcry in Switzerland.

On Monday a court found a 22-year-old Portuguese and a 25-year-old French-Algerian guilty of murdering the teenager at Yverdon-les-Bains station on June 1, 2003.

They received jail terms of 20 years and 19 years respectively. Two minors who were also involved in the fatal assault had already been sentenced.

The four attempted to rob the teenager of his CD-player. A fight broke out and the victim was savagely beaten and stabbed with his own knife. He died from his injuries a few days later in Lausanne University Hospital.

The court said the guilt of the two defendants was overwhelming and there were no extenuating circumstances.

Troubled childhood

The judge said they had only escaped the maximum penalty – a life sentence – because of their young age, troubled childhood and expressions of remorse.

The court heard that the pair had acted on a "trivial and odious motive": namely that they had sought revenge after one of their companions was slightly injured by the victim as he tried to defend himself.

Prosecutors had demanded 20 years in prison for each of the defendants. The French-Algerian received a lesser sentence because he did not stab the youth and had a less serious criminal history than his accomplice.

The defendants were also ordered by the court to pay SFr120,000 ($94,000) to the victim’s family.

Following the murder, around 1,500 people attended a demonstration against youth violence in La-Chaux-de-Fonds – the victim’s home town.

Gang attack

The Yverdon murder came a month after a 42-year-old lecturer was left for dead in a gang attack in the capital, Bern.

Four of the seven-member gang, who were all aged between 17 and 21 at the time of the attack, went on trial last week.

There have been fears for some time in Switzerland that violent crime among young people is on the rise.

Official figures released in February showed an increase in juvenile crime between 1999 and 2004, including a 40 per cent rise in violent crime. But some experts claim the statistics are misleading.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

It has been widely reported that youth violence in Switzerland is on the rise and that delinquents are getting ever younger and more vicious.

But according to the Swiss Dictionary on Social Politics (2002), research on the subject does not confirm this.

End of insertion
In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.