A Swiss parliamentarian has been found guilty of electoral fraud and given a suspended financial penalty.
On top of the two-year suspended penalty of more than SFr1,800 ($1,842), he will also have to pay a SFr540 fine and court costs of up to SFr15,702. The verdict was handed down by a local judge in the town of Biel on Thursday.
Ricardo Lumengo was accused of filling in more than 40 ballot sheets allegedly in an effort to win a seat in the Bern cantonal assembly in 2006.
The 48-year-old defendant rejected the accusations, saying he was showing potential voters how to take part in elections and had written his own name as well as others on ballot sheets to illustrate the procedure.
Lumengo’s lawyer said he would appeal against the judge’s decision. After leaving the court, Lumengo said he would maintain his innocence, unless he was found guilty on appeal.
Born in Angola, Lumengo fled civil war in the country in the early 1980s and came to Switzerland where he studied law. He entered local politics in 2004 and became a member of the federal parliament for the centre-left Social Democratic Party in 2007.
His party has asked him to step down with immediate effect.
swissinfo.ch and agencies