Outcry ends violent offender’s lavish therapy

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected] • 3 Sep, 2013 Updated Tue 3 Sep 2013 10:28 CEST
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A 17-year-old violent offender in Zurich is behind bars again following a storm of controversy about a lavish therapy programme that allowed him to live in a four-room apartment with a Thai boxing champion at a reported cost of 29,000 francs a month.

The muscular youth, known as “Carlos”, has a history of violent offences, and the programme was initiated after stints in juvenile detention and treatment in a psychiatric hospital failed, authorities said.

However, they were forced to put the youth back into detention after media coverage of his therapy prompted concerns from politicians and the public.

Zurich’s justice department said Carlos had to be moved “for his own safety” after the location of his apartment — in Basel — and the place where he trained became publicly known.

His case first came to light last month in the public affairs show “Reporter” aired by SRF, the German-language state broadcaster.

The show revealed that the youth was supported by a 10-person team.

Blick subsequently reported that the canton of Zurich had paid a total of 960,000 francs to look after Carlos and his entourage, which included a social worker who lived with him, a lawyer and his boxing coach.

For critics this was all too much for a “delinquent” who stabbed another teenager two years ago following a folder-full of offences going back to when he was just nine years old.

Robbery, weapons possession, drug use, threats and assaults were among the charges against him.

Marcel Risen, head of Zurich’s youth advocate’s office, said he understood how the case had sparked outrage.

But he argued that in some cases it was worthwhile “to invest more to prevent further offences and consequential costs”.

However, the case became untenable with public anger over his treatment, fueled by photos of the teen showing off his muscles and posing with his coach, Thai boxing champion Shemsi Beqiri.

The TV documentary also showed, among other things, that the youth had a collection of Japanese sabres in his apartment.

Martin Graf, Zurich’s justice minister, has ordered a report into the case from the prosecutor of minors.

The Swiss People’s Party has called for a parliamentary commission of inquiry, while other parties are also demanding more information about Zurich's programmes for delinquent youths.



Malcolm Curtis 2013/09/03 10:28

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