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CRIMINAL

Fake police ring nabbed in western Switzerland

Swiss police have arrested a gang of fake officers who stole tens of thousands of dollars from tourists in the Lake Geneva area this summer.

Fake police ring nabbed in western Switzerland
An aerial view of Geneva. Photo: Wikipedia

The gang, made up mainly of Romanian nationals, had been posing as officers in some of the top tourist spots in Geneva and neighbouring Vaud, police said on Friday.

The set-up was always the same: a plain-clothed member of the gang would ask an unsuspecting tourist for directions, only to be interrupted by two accomplices wearing police uniforms demanding to see his and the tourist's identification.

With the tourist's wallet in hand, the phony officers discretely pocketed the cash inside.

Police said they had arrested seven members of the gang, which worked in two teams believed to be behind some 30 such cases in Geneva and five in Vaud in the past six weeks.

Victims said the gang had made off with nearly $35,000 (€26,000) in cash.

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SYRIA

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.