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Raoul free to return to Switzerland after U.S. court dismisses case

The Swiss-American boy at the centre of a highly controversial court case in the United States is free to return to Switzerland after a district court dismissed the aggravated incest case.

This content was published on November 11, 1999 - 11:49

The Swiss-American boy at the centre of a highly controversial court case in the United States is free to return to Switzerland after a district court dismissed the aggravated incest case.

The Swiss foreign ministry, which had intervened on behalf of the 11-year-old boy known as Raoul, expressed its satisfaction about State Court Judge James Zimmerman’s decision to dismiss the case as the boy’s right to a speedy trial had been violated.

“We are very happy that the case has now come to this conclusion,” said foreign ministry spokesman Ruedi Christen in the Swiss capital Berne.

Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss said Raoul would return to Switzerland on Friday.

Raoul’s parents, who moved to Switzerland immediately after police led the boy away in handcuffs on August 30, were visibly relieved when they learned about the turn of events.

“I cannot describe with words how I feel now,” Raoul’s father told German breakfast television Thursday. “He (Raoul) was very happy and, after a very long time, was finally able to enjoy a cheese fondue again.”

Raoul’s mother, speaking on U.S. television, said she planned to put her son into a “therapeutic school” immediately.

“Obviously, he’s gone through something of a trauma,” she said.

Asked if Raoul would be allowed near his sister, she said the family would act as it always has. She said she would “keep an eye on them all the time, a very close watch on what they’re doing, how they are playing, what they’re watching on TV.”

Raoul was charged with aggravated incest and sexual assault on his five-year-old sister, and could have faced up to two years in juvenile detention if convicted. The boy and his parents always maintained his innocence.

The case caused an uproar in Switzerland, where the media championed the boy’s cause, saying the local U.S. justice authorities overreacted by arresting him at night, holding him for six weeks in a juvenile detention centre and shackling him in at least one court arraignment.

Many Swiss believe that the boy was being punished for behaviour not untypical of children his age.

A neighbour in the Denver suburb of Evergreen, where the family lived, said she saw Raoul sexually touching his sister in their yard.

Even though the prosecution said it remained concerned about Raoul, lawyers said it was unlikely that new charges would be filed.

His defence attorney said they were now considering suing Colorado’s Jefferson County authorities, claiming the boy should not have been arrested at night without a warrant.

From staff and wire reports.

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