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POLICE

Swiss basketball star slams police in US trial

Swiss NBA star Thabo Sefolosha insisted on Wednesday that he was targeted with unjustified police violence after an incident outside a night club, at his trial for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Swiss basketball star slams police in US trial
Sefolosha (centre) leaves court. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP

Lawyers for the Atlanta Hawks forward, who is black, maintain that New York police officers who arrested him handled him so aggressively that they broke his leg. Police say Sefolosha was belligerent, and that he called an officer a midget.
   
In any event, lawyers for the player, and Sefolosha himself, have cast the incident as another case of overzealous police handling of black men.
   
A wave of police killings of unarmed black men has become a defining issue across the United States, sparking a wave of protests and giving birth to a new generation of rights activists.
   
Sefolosha had ligament damage, had to undergo surgery as well as months of rest that he says made him miss the National Basketball Association playoffs.
   
The incident took place April 8th, shortly after another pro player, Chris Copeland, was knifed on his way out of the same club.
   
Prosecutors argue that Sefolosha did not obey the orders of police officers who were trying to clear a crime scene.
   
“He doesn't think the rules apply to him,” Jesse Matthews, an assistant district attorney, told jurors. “Defendant displayed a sense of entitlement and disdain.”
   
But Sefolosha's lawyer, Alex Spiro, had a different take.
   
“I think he (the arresting police officer) saw a black man in a hoodie,” Spiro said referring to the hooded sweatshirts favored by American teens and young adults.

Born to a Swiss mother and a South African father, Sefolosha is a native of Vevey in the canton of Vaud.

The 201-centimetre-tall athlete is the best known of four players from Switzerland currently playing basketball in the American big leagues.

He launched his career in Vevey with the Riviera Basket pro team before playing in France and Italy.

Sefolosha was picked in the 2006 NBA draft debuting with the Chicago Bulls before playing with the Oklahama City Thunder and for a year (2011-12) with the Turkish team Feberbahçe Ülker of the Euroleague.

He joined the Atlanta Hawks in 2014.

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CRIME

Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

Swiss authorities have sent an 84-year-old bank robber to prison. The man, who robbed the same bank twice, had hoped his age would see him avoid sentencing.

Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

A court in the Swiss canton of Lucerne has jailed an 84-year-old man for two years and four months for two bank robberies stretching back across the past decade. 

The man, named in Swiss media as Willi P, has been given a partially suspended sentence and will only need to serve six months. 

The man robbed a bank in Meggen in 2012 and in 2017, stealing around CHF13,000 in total. 

He threatened the bank’s employees with a folding pocket knife placed inside a plastic bag to look like a gun. 

The man avoided jail in 2021 when the case was brought to court, with the judges saying he was too old. 

This time, the cantonal court disagreed. 

“According to the case law of the federal court, even a relatively old age does not in principle justify a particular sensitivity to punishment, which must be taken into account to reduce the sentence,” the court said. 

READ MORE: Why do foreigners ‘commit more violent crimes’ than the Swiss?

Willi P was remorseful, telling the media he was “heartbroken” by what he had done, telling the press his wife had no idea about the robberies. 

“I’m really sorry for everything and felt heartbroken. Afterwards I said to myself: Hey, you are stupid! Why do you still have to do something like this at this age?”

The man pleaded with the court not to sentence him, saying “I’ve been punished enough with my poor health. I am sorry.”

While the court noted that due to the man’s advanced age he may die in jail, this was not enough of an exceptional circumstance to prevent the sentence. 

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