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University of Zurich challenges ruling on dismissed professor in Federal Court

Iris Ritzmann was a medical historian at the University of Zurich before she was dismissed in 2013. Keystone / Steffen Schmidt

The University of Zurich is appealing a court decision ruling that the dismissal of a professor over a data breach was arbitrary.

This content was published on January 6, 2020 - 16:29
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On Monday, the University of Zurich announced that it had filed an appeal with the country’s highest court, arguing that previous case law would have led to a different outcome in the case of professor Iris Ritzmann. The university also noted that the decision has had considerable financial consequences.

Ritzmann was accused of leaking sensitive data to the media, some of it relating to rightwing People’s Party politician Christoph Mörgeli, who was the head of the university’s Medical History Museum at the time. The data detailed internal misgivings about Mörgeli’s performance, which led to his dismissal in 2012.

The following year, Ritzmann was also sacked from the university, which sparked protests among colleagues and the eventual resignation of the university’s rector, who said he took ultimate responsibility for the data breach scandal.

Ritzmann told news agency Keystone-SDA that she regretted that the university management “did not cease to treat [her] with hostility, even after seven years”.

In November 2019, Zurich’s administrative court ruled that the professor’s dismissal was null and void because the evidence was obtained unlawfully and therefore inadmissible. The University of Zurich had analysed the professor’s telephone and e-mail data and information gathered via the public prosecutor’s search of Ritzmann’s house to identify the leak.

Ritzmann was also arrested on the criminal charge of breaching data security laws. But she was acquitted when a court ruled that prosecutors had illegally obtained crucial evidence against her.


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