Swiss to prosecute far-right leader over Kadhafi photo use
Swiss authorities said Thursday it would prosecute a far-right party leader for outrage against a foreign state over the use of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's picture in a poster calling for foreign criminals to be expelled.
"The Federal Department of Justice and Police, in agreement with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, has approved the request of the Ministry of the Federation asking for penal proceedings to be undertaken against Eric Stauffer for outrage to a foreign state," said the Justice Ministry in a statement.
It added that the prosecution has been approved following a written request of Libya.
Stauffer heads the Geneva Citizens' Movement (MCG) which is campaigning ahead of a nationwide referendum on whether foreign criminals who have committed certain crimes should be stripped of their right to remain in Switzerland and deported to their home countries.
In its poster in support of the initiative, the MCG juxtaposed a photo of Kadhafi against the text: "He wants to destroy Switzerland".
Swiss local authorities in Geneva had earlier demanded that MCG removed the picture of Kadhafi.
"With no link to the subject of the vote, this attack harms the superior interests of Switzerland, of our canton and its citizens abroad," Geneva authorities had said.
On Thursday, MCG issued a defiant statement, saying that "ceding to Libyan demands to prosecute Eric Stauffer is an additional humiliation."
It added: "We should not bend down in the face of external threats and cede to the whims of the Kadhafi family."
Relations between Bern and Tripoli were deeply strained after the July 2008 arrest of a son of Kadhafi, Hannibal, in Geneva.
Hannibal was later released, but the move sparked a series of reprisals from Libya. Two Swiss citizens were blocked from leaving Libyan territory until this year.
Switzerland will vote November 28 on the far-right initiative for foreigners who have committed crimes such as murder, rape or drug trafficking to be expelled.
Under the initiative, the expulsion would also apply on foreigners found to have abused social security.
© 2010 AFP