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Teacher killer trial resumes

A Yugoslav man who admitted killing his daughter's teacher in Sankt Gallen more than a year ago, is finally facing justice in a Serbian court. Although the trial of Ded Gecaj is already underway, it was first reported in the Swiss press on Sunday.

This content was published on March 19, 2000 - 21:08

A Yugoslav man who admitted killing his daughter's teacher in Sankt Gallen more than a year ago, is finally facing justice in a Serbian court. Although the trial of Ded Gecaj is already underway, it was first reported in the Swiss press on Sunday.

According to the SonntagsZeitung, Gecaj is standing trial accused of murdering Paul Spirig, his daughter's teacher, in Sankt Gallen on January 11 1999. The trial is believed to be the culimination of joint Swiss and Yugoslav efforts. The state prosecutor of Sankt Gallen has been giving legal assistance to Yugoslavia over the past year on the case. Swiss investigators also accuse Gecaj of sexually abusing and beating his 16 year-old daughter for five years.

However, Folco Galli of the Federal Police Office told Swiss Radio International that the Yugoslav authorities did not directly inform his department nor the foreign ministry, that the trial was taking place. "We know from our embassy in Belgrade that the trial started on March 13 but we do not know exactly what the charges are, if the sexual offences are included or not."

According to the SonntagsZeitung, the trial in the Serbian town of Leskovac, around 300 kilometres south of the Yugoslav capital Belgrade, is set to last three or four weeks. Folco Galli said Switzerland will not be officially represented.

An international search was launched after the shooting when Gecaj fled from Switzerland. He was arrested in Serbia a month later and admitted he opened fire on Paul Spirig, at a school meeting room in Sankt Gallen. He later accused Spirig of molesting her. When he was arrested by Serb police, he reportedly said it was a crime of honour.

Folco Galli says the Swiss investigation itself is also far from over adding that "...the canton of Sankt Gallen has asked for evidence (from the Yugoslav legal authorities) to help its own investigation. At the moment we are still waiting for an answer."

He said it was unlikely Gecaj would face justice in Switzerland, as the extradition treaty between Berne and Belgrade does not oblige Yugoslavia to hand over any of its nationals for trial abroad.

swissinfo and agencies


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