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Parliamentarian cleared of electoral fraud

An appeals court has cleared a Swiss parliamentarian found guilty of electoral fraud and granted him a financial compensation.

The Bern Supreme Court on Wednesday said there was no evidence that the defendant, Ricardo Lumengo, filled out more than 40 ballot sheets with his name in an effort to win a seat in the cantonal assembly in 2006.

The verdict overturns a ruling by a lower court last November which handed down a suspended financial penalty.

Lumengo, who was born in Angola and fled to Switzerland in the 1980s, had maintained his innocence.

He argued he was showing potential voters how to take part in elections and had written his own name on ballot sheets to illustrate the procedure.

However, he had not cast the ballots.

Four years ago, the 49-year-old trained lawyer was elected to the federal parliament as a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

It asked him to step down after the initial verdict, but Lumengo kept his seat as an independent representative.

It is not clear whether the prosecution will take the case to the Federal Court.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR