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Man sentenced to life for grisly wife murder

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View of Fribourg, where the murder took place. Photo: Norbert Aepli
22:26 CEST+02:00
A 47-year-old man who tortured his wife before slitting her throat in a Fribourg apartment because she "did not know how to cook couscous", among other issues, was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison for murder.

The killing occurred in April 2010 after the man raped his spouse with whom he was separated and attacked her so savagely that she could only be identified through dental records, according to media reports.

The couple arrived in Switzerland from Tunisia in 1999 but their relationship broke up and the husband, a former accountant with the Tunisian Embassy in Bern, became unemployed and started drinking, according to reports of evidence heard earlier in the case.

He became jealous of his wife, accusing her of infidelity, of not looking after their two daughters — 9 and 12 at the time of the killing — and of being incapable of cooking couscous.

On Thursday, the regional criminal court found him guilty of rape and murder, the ATS news agency reported.

The case has attracted Swiss media attention because of its lurid details, including the fact the accused believed he was being followed by police of then Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidene Ben Ali.

The head judge of the court noted that the defendant acted with “methodical sangfroid” in the preparations he made to kill his wife, ATS said.

There were no extenuating circumstances involved, the judge said.

The court earlier heard that the man tied his wife to a bed, gagged her and stabbed her in the back 15 times before shooting her in the face with an air gun, the 20 Minutes newspaper reported several weeks ago.

He then strangled the woman, who was seven years his junior, before cutting her throat with a knife, the newspaper said, citing testimony.

The judge said the convicted murderer had displayed “barbarism, cruelty and determination” by his actions, ATS reported.

After committing the murder, the man washed and changed and later shared a meal with his daughters, the court was told.

He told his children that their mother was out.

The night of the killing he laid next to the body of his blood-drenched victim on a bed before turning himself into Fribourg cantonal police the next day.

The children have been turned into orphans in a country where they have no family, the head judge noted.

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Their father was ordered by the court to pay each of the girls 80,000 francs in damages.

As to his life sentence, in reality this means under Swiss rules that he will be able to request conditional release after serving 15 years in jail.

He has already spent four years in detention.

The man’s lawyer, who earlier argued that while his client’s acts were “monstrous” the defendant should not be considered a monster, said he would likely be appealing the sentence, ATS reported.
 

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