Swiss foreign ministry "very happy" about Raoul case dismissal

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss says he is very happy that the Swiss-American boy at the centre of a highly controversial court case in the United States has been released and will travel to Switzerland on Friday.

This content was published on November 11, 1999 - 17:08

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss said on Thursday he was very happy that the Swiss-American boy at the centre of a highly controversial court case in the United States had been released and would be able to travel to Switzerland on Friday.

“I am very happy that Raoul can now return to his parents,” Deiss told a news conference in the capital Berne, a few hours after the incest and sexual assault case against the 11-year-old boy was dismissed by a court in the U.S. state of Colorado.

Deiss said Raoul would be accompanied to Switzerland by honorary consul Walter Wyss, who had been in daily contact with the boy during the legal proceedings.

The foreign minister said the Swiss government never interfered in the court procedures in the U.S. but always insisted on diplomatic representation for the boy.

Deiss also urged the Swiss media to show restraint and respect the privacy of Raoul and his family once they are reunited.

The parents, who moved to Switzerland immediately after police led Raoul 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, Andreas Wüthrich, said after he learned of the court decision.

Speaking at a news conference in the town of Chur, he said that he had already spoken to his son on the phone. “Raoul is free and in safe hands,” he said, adding that he always believed honesty would win in the end.

Raoul’s mother, speaking earlier 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.”

State Court Judge James Zimmerman decided to dismiss the case because Raoul’s right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Raoul had been 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 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’s rehabilitation, 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 without a warrant.

From staff and wire reports.

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