Former Justice Minister Rudolf Friedrich has died aged 90. He was known as a hardline law and order politician during much of his career. He later adopted more liberal views, promoting Switzerland's opening to Europe.This content was published on October 21, 2013 - 20:26
His centre-right Radical Party on Monday described Friedrich as an "honest and forthright personality".
Friedrich was elected to the seven-member cabinet in 1982, picking up the justice portfolio. Two years later he stepped down, citing health reasons.
His name was attached to a law limiting the acquisition of Swiss property by non-Swiss residents.
He also launched two reforms to the asylum law to cope with the influx of immigrants – primarily Tamils – at the beginning of the 1980s.
In 1983, he was criticised for ordering the closure of the Bern office of the Russian news agency Novosti because it was considered subversive and engaged in spying.
Friedrich was born into a family of entrepreneurs in Winterthur in 1923 and studied law at the University of Zurich. In 1957 he opened his own law firm in his home town.
During his political carreer he represented the Radical Party in local, cantonal and national parliaments from 1962 to 1982.
Friedrich pushed for a strong national defence as a guarantee of Swiss neutrality and independence as defence expert in House of Representatives form 1975 to 1982.
On August 7, 1984, his house was attacked. No one was injured in the explosion – which has never been fully explained – but a wave of arrests followed among the Winterthur youth scene.
As an ex-cabinet minister, Friedrich pushed for Swiss membership of the United Nations and the European Economic Area, a halfway house to the European Union.
Other roles included being founder of the Swiss Helsinki Association, president of the Pro Juventute youth foundation and a board member of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper, in which he frequently shared his opinions.
These included direct criticism of Christoph Blocher, billionaire figurehead of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, whose election to the cabinet in 2003 he described as a “misfortune”.
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