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Anger swells over jail term in 'Lucie' case

Lyssandra Sears · 5 Mar 2012, 10:11

Published: 05 Mar 2012 11:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Mar 2012 10:11 GMT+01:00

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Last week the 28-year-old man known as Daniel H was sentenced to conditional life imprisonment for the murder of 16-year-old au-pair Lucie Trezzini – but many believe the term is not harsh enough.

Despite the efforts of the prosecution, Daniel H was not awarded a life-term but a less stringent sentence of 18 years and psychiatric intervention, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported. This means that he will be reviewed throughout his sentence and may one day be released.

In order to apply the full life term, the court required proof that Daniel H could not be rehabilitated. But the court found that the evidence was not sufficient to describe Daniel H as being permanently untreatable.

In a further blow for the prosecution, although traces of semen were found, along with evidence that Daniel H. had cleaned Trezzini’s body both inside and out, the court was unable to conclude incontrovertibly that Lucie had been raped.

This meant that the sexual component needed for a full life-term conviction was also missing.

“The verdict in the trial of Daniel H shows a disregard for the people’s will,” founder of the life-custody initiative, Anita Chaaban, told newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Chaaban is a housewife who has dedicated herself to tightening the laws on sexual offences after her 13-year-old goddaughter was raped some years ago. National Councillor for the Swiss People’s Party, Nathalie Rickli, is supporting her.

Chaaban says she is disappointed by the court’s findings and has written to the Law Commission asking it to reconsider the law on life imprisonment.

“The law must ensure that dangerous offenders are kept for life," Chaaban told newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Switzerland has only ever put two sex offenders behind bars for life terms. One was a call-girl murderer, the other a repeat rapist.

But a study has shown that all serious offenders released back into society have gone on to commit serious crimes. Of the nine released between 1997 and 2005, seven committed crimes within a year of their release, online news website 20 Minutes reported.

"The monitoring network does not always do enough," Joseph Sachs, president of the Swiss Society for Forensic Psychiatry, told SonntagsZeitung.

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In order for a court to hand down a sentence of life imprisonment, the law currently requires that the experts deem the perpetrator permanently untreatable.

Chaaban is hoping to replace this with a lesser hurdle. She has also launched an online petition to monitor sex offenders.

Daniel H had already attacked another woman in 2003 with a knuckleduster, bashing her head on stone slabs and nearly strangling her. Chaaban does not understand why repeat offenders such as Daniel H would not receive full life sentences.

“The judges have to re-think,” she said.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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