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Former Swiss official loses appeal over Russia bear hunt trip

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. © Keystone / Ti-press / Pablo Gianinazzi

A former Russia specialist with the federal police, accused of accepting benefits during a bear hunting trip to Russia, has had his appeal rejected.

This content was published on June 5, 2020 - 13:28
Keysonte-SDA/swissinfo.ch/ilj

The appeals chamber of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court on Friday confirmed the original judgement that the former police official had accepted benefits on the excursion. 

The 60-year-old took part in the trip in August 2016, accepting an invitation from the then deputy Russian federal prosecutor, with whom he was said to have “friendly contact” due to his frequent trips to Russia.

But the Bellinzona court decided against any form of extra punishment, saying that the man did not have to settle any more claims, as this had not been foreseen by the lower court. It also said there would be no criminal record entry, to help the man find employment (as he is over 55 and has not found a job since he lost his previous post).

Criticism 

The news comes after Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny criticised the Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) for having ‘too close contact’ with the Russian Prosecutor General’s office in a newspaper interview last weekend.

One of the examples he cited was that of the former Russia specialist. He also took aim at Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

The hunting case started in February 2017 when the Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) opened a criminal investigation against the official. The charges of usurpation, abuse of office and corruption were later dropped due to lack of evidence. Only the repeated acceptance of benefits remained. 

In the original judgement, the Federal Criminal Court ordered the former police agent to settle a compensation claim of CHF5,000 ($5,000) and received a 60-day suspended fine of CHF150.

The man’s defence centred on arguments that the attentions he accepted did not exceed the usual standard when working with the Russian justice system. 

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