A Swiss criminal court on Thursday handed down a life sentence without the possibility of parole to a man convicted of his second murder, in a case that shocked French-speaking Switzerland and led to a rethinking of the correctional system.
In announcing the sentence, the court in Renens, part of the canton of Vaud, said it had no doubt that the man, known as Claude D., is an extremely dangerous psychopath who is beyond treatment. He was convicted of kidnapping, sexually abusing and strangling a 19-year-old woman named Marie in 2013. Their full names are withheld in keeping with Switzerland’s strict privacy laws and norms.
The defense said it would appeal the court’s sentence. At the time of the murder, Claude D. was already serving a 20-year sentence for the 2000 murder of another woman.
Any questions about his guilt in the second murder were set aside when he led police to the woman’s body in May 2013. It was hidden in a wooded area near the western Swiss city of Payerne, a largely agricultural area.
The crime occurred just as Claude D. was preparing for an early release from prison, having been convicted and sentenced to 20 years for the kidnapping, rape and murder of his girlfriend in 2000. He had been wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and serving his sentence under house arrest.
An investigation later showed that his probation officer raised questions about his fitness for early release, but the judge ignored these concerns. Transfer to a psychiatric prison was never considered.
Public uproar surrounding the case led to debate over the correctional system, loosening of medical confidentiality in the French-speaking cantons, and closer cooperation among the various offices.