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Switzerland drafts in foreign crime expert

FBI-trained Müller has begun working on the Bern murder Keystone

For the second time this year, Switzerland has enlisted a foreign expert to help in its criminal investigations.

This content was published on August 7, 2002 - 18:09

Cantonal authorities in Bern have drafted in Thomas Müller, a renowned criminal psychologist from Austria, to help solve last week's murder of a woman in Bern.

Natalia Slupski, a 20-year-old student, was stabbed to death in a street on the outskirts of Bern on the night of August 1. Another woman was also severely injured in an attack which occurred an hour earlier in a different suburb of the town.

In February, authorities in canton Valais brought in a Belgian criminal profiler, Carine Hutsebaut, to trace the attacker of Luca Mongelli, a seven-year-old boy who was left severely paralysed after being assaulted in Veysonnaz.

Hutsebaut is best known for her role in helping to track down the Belgian serial child killer, Marc Dutroux, by compiling his character profile.

Murder in Bern

Authorities said Müller was one of around fifty criminal experts currently working on the Bern case.

"As an expert in forensic psychology, Müller is another useful element in this investigation," Jürg Mosimann, a spokesman for the cantonal police in Bern, told swissinfo. "The fact that he's here is proof that we're using every tool at our disposal in this case."

Mosimann rejected allegations that Müller, who was trained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, was being used more as a tool to calm the population rather than for his technical abilities.

"Müller doesn't pretend to be able to solve crimes directly, but he can give the police very useful clues with his precise analysis of the scene of the crime."

Meanwhile, authorities in canton Valais said they had also welcomed the assistance of a foreign expert in the Mongelli affair.

"Of course, we do prefer to resolve crimes ourselves," Pierre-Martin Moulin, spokesman for the police authorities in canton Valais, told swissinfo. "But [...] any help we get in our investigations is welcome."

Too little crime

However, the recourse to foreign criminal experts has been criticised by some analysts.

"There's been too much media attention on these so-called 'supercops' and I'm sceptical about their role," a Swiss criminologist, who wished to remain anonymous, told swissinfo. "The real experts are those who work undercover with the police and whose identity is never known."

However, there was a shortage of experienced criminal specialists in Switzerland, the criminologist acknowledged.

"Although we train a lot of these experts in Switzerland, they can only gain experience abroad because there isn't a lot of crime committed in Switzerland - that may be the reason why they bring in people from abroad."

Calming fears

Police authorities said the police presence in and around Bern had been stepped up following last week's murder. Women in the area had also been urged to be more wary when out alone.

"There are a lot more police officers on the beat in the area, many of whom are not in uniform," Mosimann said. "But even so, women should always think carefully about whether they should be walking home alone late at night, rather than taking a taxi."

Investigations in the Bern area were progressing well, Mosimann said, with many "possible leads" to follow up.

swissinfo

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