Swiss police act against race attack claim

19th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Zurich investigates a Brazilian woman’s complaint of racist violence.

ZURICH - Public prosecutors in the Swiss city of Zurich opened criminal proceedings against a Brazilian woman who claimed she was the victim of a racist attack, authorities said Wednesday.

Her allegations earlier in February drew great attention from Brazilian media and prompted an intervention from Brazil's foreign ministry until doubts were raised about her account.

The Zurich-Sihl public prosecutors office said in a statement on Wednesday that the woman was suspected of misleading investigators. Under Swiss law, she could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

The 26-year-old woman, who was granted legal assistance, was forbidden from leaving Swiss territory during the investigation. Swiss officials took her passport.

However, the investigation into her complaint about being attacked at a suburban station on the evening of 9 February would also continue separately, the statement added.

The Brazilian woman, a corporate lawyer, told police she was attacked by three skinheads who carved the letters SVP, the initials of Switzerland's hard right Swiss People's Party, on her stomach and thighs.

She also claimed that she miscarried twins after the assault.

However, medical examinations later indicated that she was not pregnant at the time, Zurich police said.

A police forensic expert also said that it was possible she cut herself with a knife.
The story was treated as a scandal in Brazil's press earlier in February, with the major newspapers describing her as the victim of racist "torture" in Switzerland.

Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said he called Swiss diplomat Claude Grottaz to express his deep concern and called for a thorough investigation.

[AFP / Expatica]

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