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Bungling cited in Geneva prison therapist’s death
Police police arresting Fabrice Anthamatten last month. Photo: Marcin Bielecki/PAP/AFP

Bungling cited in Geneva prison therapist’s death

Published: 09 Oct 2013 21:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Oct 2013 21:57 GMT+02:00

The authority in charge of the serving of sentences in the canton should not have authorized the release of Fabrice Anthamatten, 39, from the prison “on the basis of the file in its possession,” Bernard Ziegler, a former Geneva justice minister who is heading the inquiry, said in an initial report.

Anthamatten is suspected of murdering Adeline Morel, 34, whose body was found in a wood near the municipality of Versoix on September 13th.

Morel accompanied Anthamatten on day release for a planned session of horse riding therapy, designed to prepare him for reintegration into society once his sentence is finished, before the pair went missing.

The inmate was later arrested in Poland near the German border after driving in a car used by the therapist.

He is currently the subject of an extradition request by Swiss justice authorities.

Morel’s death sparked a national debate in Switzerland over whether its prisons are too lax with violent criminals.

Ziegler told a press conference that numerous “mistakes” were made in the handling of Anthamatten, who was serving two sentences totalling 20 years for raping women at knife-point.

The prisoner was released from the Pâquerette sociotherapy centre in the Champ-Dollon prison complex solely on the analysis of a doctor who was treating him, when the opinion of an external expert should have been sought, the lawyer said.

An evaluation committee on the dangerousness of inmates should have met to decide on the man’s release, while the input of the head of the security department should have been sought under procedures that were ignored, the inquiry found.

The prisoner should have never been released alone in the company of a woman therapist, Ziegler indicated.

Prison management should also have never authorized the purchase by Anthamatten of a knife with a 20-centimetre blade (ostensibly to clean horse shoes during his equestrian therapy) that was allegedly used to kill Morel.

“The state failed in its mission of protection of its employees,” the head of the cantonal government Charles Beer told the press conference while adding official apologies of the canton to the victim’s family.

The government has promised a range of measures to tighten procedures dealing with the release of prisoners in the wake of the inquiry’s damning report.


The woman director in charge of the serving of prison sentences was removed from her post as of Wednesday while her role in the case is being examined, the canton said.

Ziegler’s inquiry is scheduled to file a further report on January 31st 2014. 

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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