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Murder suspect acted ‘out of vengeance against the Swiss state’

Armed police officer
After a night on the run, the suspect was arrested the following day by cantonal police Keystone

A man suspected of fatally stabbing a random man in western Switzerland on Saturday has confessed, saying that he acted in the name of jihadism, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. He had been released from prison in July, having been under surveillance for possible links to Islamist terrorism.

The 26-year-old Turkish-Swiss dual national had been known to the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) since 2017 “for the consumption and dissemination of jihadist propaganda”.

In April 2019 he was arrested and held in pre-trial detention following an arson attack on a petrol station in Prilly, canton Vaud. In the course of that case cantonal investigators came across “indications of a possible jihadist background”, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said in a statement on Wednesday.

In October 2019 the OAG extended the investigation to include offences under Article 2 of the Federal Act on the Proscription of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Associated Organisations: support for or participation in a criminal organisation and disseminating representations of violence.

The term of detention had been extended several times, initially at the request of the public prosecutor in canton Vaud and subsequently at the OAG’s request after it had taken control of the criminal proceedings.

In July 2020, at the request of the OAG, the compulsory measures court released the suspect from detention. This release was subject to various alternative measures outlined by the authorities involved, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, requiring the suspect to report regularly to the authorities and banning him from carrying any weapons.

Before the incident on Saturday, the OAG had received no reports of any breaches of these measures, which would have justified placing the suspect back in detention.

Psychiatric help

However, RTS, citing sources close to the investigation, said the OAG had requested that the suspect be committed to a psychiatric institution, considering that his psychological health was deteriorating and that he was not very cooperative. But owing to a lack of space he was released.

This was denied on Wednesday evening by the Vaud Department of Security, which said “no Vaud authority had received a decision from the OAG ordering the psychiatric confinement of the accused after his release in July”.

The OAG told RTS that while it had not made any official request for confinement it had emailed the Vaud authorities on August 19, saying the decision to put the man up in a hotel was inadequate and that a place in a psychiatric institution needed to be found quickly. The Vaud authorities replied that there was nowhere immediately available, according to RTS.

Portuguese victim

At around 9pm on Saturday, the man attacked a 29-year-old Portuguese national in a kebab restaurant near Morges train station. The victim, who died at the scene, lived in the area and worked in a transport and removal company. He was with his girlfriend when the attacker came at them with a knife.

After a night on the run, the suspect was arrested the following day by cantonal police. According to RTS, he was found with the weapon and a copy of the Koran. He reportedly admitted that he had acted in the name of jihadism, “out of vengeance against the Swiss state” and to “avenge the Prophet”.

He attacked a man representing the Swiss population, according to RTS’s source. The OAG, contacted by Keystone-ATS, neither confirmed nor denied this information. However, it said a terrorist motive could not be excluded.

Intentional homicide and murder

The OAG said that, in view of the incident in Morges, it had extended the criminal proceedings that were opened in April 2019 to include intentional homicide and murder.

The OAG is now working with the cantonal authorities, fedpol und the FIS to clarify the circumstances.

In Morges, around 100 people paid homage to the victim on Monday evening at the scene of the murder.



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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR