Charlie Hebdo killings spark Swiss rallies

Hundreds of people attended solidarity rallies in Geneva, Lausanne and Bern on Wednesday night over the terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine’s editorial offices in Paris that left 12 people dead.

Charlie Hebdo killings spark Swiss rallies

The rallies mirrored ones held in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other cities across France, as well as in London, Berlin and other European cities, as the French coped with their worst terrorist incident since the Algerian war.

Ten members of the magazine’s staff were killed, including its editor Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, and cartoonists well-known in French-speaking Switzerland such as Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous.

French police were seeking three suspects in connection with the killings, including two brothers in their 30s, according to media reports, which have suggested a radical Islamic group such as Al Qaeda may be responsible.

Two gunmen shown in a video are heard to shout “the prophet has been avenged” after the killings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, known for satirizing Islam through cartoons.

Around 500 people gathered in silence at the Place de la Riponne, in the centre of Lausanne, lighting candles and brandishing “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) signs that have sprung up in France and elsewhere as symbols of sympathy and indignation over the assassinations.

(Journalists at AFP’s newsroom in Paris gathered en masse to pose for a group photo holding up “Je suis Charlie” signs.)

Local politicians, including the head of the Vaud cantonal government, Pierre-Yves Maillard, participated along with local journalists at the Lausanne gathering, which began at 6pm.

“I grew up with Charlie Hebdo and the Canard Enchaîné (another French satirical weekly),” cantonal cabinet minister Béatrice Métraux told 24heures newspaper.

“I am profoundly shocked by what has happened.”

Earlier in the day, the Vaud government issued a statement condemning “with force this aggression against the fundamental principles of democracy and liberty”.

In Geneva, more than 500 people gathered for a similar rally at the Uni Mall, one of the University of Geneva’s main buildings.

Local journalists, cartoonists and artists were among those at the event, where many participants held up copies of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, a publication that was known for its provocative humour.

Journalists are also planning another solidarity rally on Thursday at a square in the centre of Geneva.

Another rally organized by journalists attracted around 200 people in Bern, where the federal government earlier issued a statement of condolences to the families of victims in the Paris terror attack.


Case dropped against second Swiss man over Vienna attack ‘links’

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they had dropped the case against a second Swiss man over alleged links to a deadly shooting rampage in Vienna due to a lack of evidence.

Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which last month decided to drop the case against one suspect, told AFP it had issued a discontinuation order in the case against a second man.

On November 2, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in Vienna before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major attack in Austria in decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Two Swiss citizens who knew Fejzulai were arrested in the northeastern Swiss town of Winterthur just a day after the attack on suspicion they may have helped in its preparation.

‘How was it possible?’ Austrians left asking painful questions after Vienna terror shootings

The two, who were aged 18 and 24 at the time, were known to the police and were the targets of prior criminal cases over terror-linked offences.

The OAG acknowledged Thursday that no evidence had emerged that either man had participated in any way or had prior knowledge of the attack.

The older of the two men was meanwhile hit with a penalty in a separate case with no links to the Vienna file, the OAG said.

The penalty order, seen by Swiss media, indicated that he had been found guilty of violating Switzerland’s law banning Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and related organisations and of being in possession of “depictions of violence”.

According to the ATS news agency, an IS group video was found on his phone depicting people being executed and decapitated.

He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,100, 950 euros), and three years’ probation, ATS said.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

In light of this penalty, he would not be compensated for the 176 days he spent behind bars after his arrest following the Vienna attack, it added.

The OAG said a separate case was still pending against the younger of the two men, also on suspicion he breached the Swiss law banning Al-Qaeda, IS and related organisations, and over “allegations of depictions of violence”. “The presumption of innocence applies,” it stressed.