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Jungfrau guides acquitted with damages

A Swiss military court has acquitted two mountain guides who led an army ascent of the Jungfrau mountain that ended in the death of six recruits in July 2007.

The guides, who were charged with involuntary manslaughter, were awarded damages by the court in Chur in eastern Switzerland. The defendants faced up to three years in prison if found guilty.

The court awarded SFr75,000 to the 47-year-old guide and SFr90,000 to his younger colleague. The prosecution has five days to appeal the verdict.

The defence argued that the accusation of negligence had not been sufficiently backed up, pointing to the evidence of experts who said that the danger of avalanche was limited rather pronounced.

Furthermore, the defence said it was entirely possible that one of the recruits had tripped and pulled the ropes in his fall, which would mean the avalanche had not been the risk factor.

The six who died fell 1,000 metres down the flanks of the 4,158-metre peak in the Bernese Alps, and were carried away by an avalanche the group is said to have triggered itself. Six soldiers and the two guides escaped unharmed.

The army was exposed to harsh criticism following the Jungfrau deaths and a river rafting accident on the Kander a year later that cost the lives of five soldiers.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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