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Mother gets life sentence for killing three kids

A court in the canton of Zurich sentenced a mother to life in jail on Tuesday after she confessed to smothering her seven-year-old twins with a pillow and killing a third child — after denying the crimes for years.

Mother gets life sentence for killing three kids
District of Horgen court (Photo: Canton of Zurich)

The Horgen court found the 39-year-old Swiss citizen of Austrian origin guilty of murdering the twins, a boy and a girl, and of manslaughter for the death of the other child, a baby boy, court spokeswoman Bea Rosenberger told AFP.
   
The woman was handed a life term, which in Switzerland usually amounts to around 15 years behind bars, and ordered to undergo psychiatric therapy while in prison.

The woman, identified only as Bianca B. by Swiss media, had for years insisted she was not responsible for the twins' deaths in late 2007, but suddenly changed her story in a tearful confession during her trial last month.

She told the court she had murdered them both and also admitted to smothering her first child, a seven-month-old boy believed until then to have died from sudden infant death syndrome in 1999.

"I wanted him to be quiet for a while," she was quoted as saying by the ATS news agency.

Despite maintaining her innocence for a long time, Bianca B. was sentenced to life in prison for the twins' deaths in an earlier trial in March 2010, but she was granted a retrial after the court determined her defence had been flawed.

She has been in jail since the end of 2007 awaiting a final verdict, and the five years already spent behind bars will be deducted from her sentence, Rosenberger said.

At the opening of her new trial on December 12, Bianca B. described in detail how on the evening of December 23, 2007, she had gone into her son's room after placing the children's Christmas gifts under the tree and had suddenly, without thinking, picked up a pillow and pressed it against his face "until he stopped moving."

She had then gone into her daughter's room and done the same to her, before realizing what she had done.
 
 "I didn't want this," she told the court, in tears.

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TRIAL

US sues UBS over dodgy subprime securities

A US housing regulator filed a $900 million lawsuit against Swiss bank UBS on Wednesday over risky mortgage-backed securities it sold to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the two government-controlled home-loan backers, accused UBS of selling to them $4.5 billion of bundled home-loan securities during 2005-2007 that were much more risky than the bank had claimed.

The FHFA said the subsequent downgrades of the securities, as the US housing market crashed and millions of homeowners defaulted on their mortgages, caused Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lose “in excess of 20 percent of their entire investment.”

It said many of the underlying home loans in the securities were much weaker, and at greater risk of default, than UBS claimed.

“UBS’s misstatements and omissions in the registration statements regarding the true characteristics of the loans were the primary and proximate cause of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s losses,” the FHFA said in a US court filing in New York.

Many of the loans in the securities were actually so-called subprime, or highly risky, home loans, often with poor or fraudulent documentation, according to the filing.

“Forensic review of several hundred loan files has revealed numerous instances in which there was a failure during the underwriting process to confirm the reasonableness of the borrower’s stated income or to correctly account for the borrower’s debt.”

The collapse in the market for bundled home loan securities is blamed for the failure of numerous financial institutions during the crisis. The government rescued both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from bankruptcy in September 2008 and has spent about $164 billion to keep them afloat.

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