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CRIME

Spanish-Swiss suspect pleads innocence in Morocco killings

A Spanish-Swiss man accused of having ties to the alleged killers of two Scandinavian hikers in Morocco told an anti-terror judge he was innocent at a hearing on Monday February 4th, his lawyer said.

Spanish-Swiss suspect pleads innocence in Morocco killings
Fadel Senna/AFP.

“He affirmed his innocence before the examining magistrate, who heard him out in a positive atmosphere”, lawyer Saad Sahli told AFP.  

Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found beheaded on December 17 in the High Atlas mountains south of Marrakesh.

Moroccan authorities have called the killing a “terrorist” act and charged more than 20 people over their alleged involvement. The Spanish-Swiss suspect, who was arrested in Marrakesh, subscribed to “extremist ideology”, the authorities allege.

He is accused of having “taught certain people arrested in this affair the communication tools of new technologies and of having trained them to shoot”, according to the anti-terror unit of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ).

Investigators say the Spanish-Swiss suspect was involved in “recruitment operations and the indoctrination of Moroccan citizens and sub-Saharan Africans to execute terrorist plans in Morocco”.

The authorities allege that the four main suspects in the murder were inspired by the Islamic State group, but say they were not in direct contact with IS members in Iraq or Syria.

Morocco, which relies heavily on tourism income, suffered a jihadist attack in 2011, when a bomb blast at a Marrakesh cafe killed 17 people, mostly European tourists. 

READ MORE: Spanish-Swiss suspect due in court over ties to killers of Scandinavian hikers

CRIME

Swiss woman indicted over ‘jihadist knife attack’ in department store

Swiss prosecutors said Wednesday they had indicted a woman for attempted murder on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group over a brutal knife attack in November 2020.

Swiss woman indicted over 'jihadist knife attack' in department store

The 29-year-old unnamed woman allegedly attacked two women in a department store in the southern city of Lugano.

She has been charged with attempted murder and violating laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related groups, according to the indictment.

She was also charged with unlawful prostitution.

EXPLAINED: Does Switzerland face a threat from terrorism?

The attorney general’s office said the indictment related to a “jihadist knife attack” and the alleged assailant, a Swiss citizen, “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS.”

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness. She brutally attacked her randomly-selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’,” it said.

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries while the second victim, with help from others at the scene, managed to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

The attacker was arrested and detained. Police quickly discovered she had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

The woman had formed a relationship on social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria and attempted to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, police alleged at the time.

She was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, they said, adding that the woman had suffered from mental health problems and been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.

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