Bern fireman admits to setting 15 fires
The prosecution is seeking a jail sentence of eight and a half years for a 27-year-old fireman in the canton of Bern who admitted to deliberately setting 15 buildings and vehicles on fire.
The volunteer fire fighter made the admission during a court appearance in Moutier in the French-speaking Bernese Jura region on Monday.
The string of fires broke out between May 2012 and February 2014 around the village of Reconvilier and surrounding region, mostly involving empty barns, storage buildings and cars.
The prosecution said the defendant sprayed his targets with gelified alcohol before using a cigarette lighter to ignite the flames, the ATS news agency reported.
He then personally responded to the fires as a fire fighter until he was finally arrested.
“My goal was not to put the life of someone in danger,” the fireman said.
The fires did not result in any injuries or deaths.
The accused told the court that through the acts of arson he was trying to put aside “bad memories” of a difficult childhood and he apologized to the local population for his acts, ATS said.
In calling for a stiff jail sentence prosecutor Pascal Fischer said “fear and anguish” reigned in the village for two years when the repeated fires occurred.
Fischer said the fireman had acted selfishly to deal with his frustrations and characterized his culpability as “very serious” especially since from his job he was fully aware of the risks involved.
Close to 20 suspect fires were recorded in the Reconvilier region during the period, the court was told.
The foreman’s lawyer, arguing for a less sentence, said his client suffered from pyromania and psychological problems linked to a difficult life.
Sentencing is set for Wednesday.
UPDATE: The court sentenced the fireman to five years in jail.