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Jihadist killer locked up for 20 years in Switzerland

A Turkish-Swiss dual national who stabbed a passer-by to death in a rare jihadist attack in Switzerland was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in a psychiatric institution.

Named only as Omer A., the 29-year-old was found guilty of murder, attempted murder, attempted arson in trying to blow up a petrol station, support for the Islamic State jihadist group, downloading depictions of atrocious acts of violence, and breaking drugs laws.

On the evening of September 12, 2020, he had stabbed to death a 29-year-old Portuguese national at a kebab restaurant in the otherwise-tranquil town of Morges, on the shores of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland.

In a statement on its verdict, the Federal Criminal Court said the stabbing was a “jihadist-motivated attack”.

The court found the attack was premeditated, with Omer A. scouting several locations on the day of the attack, acquiring a kitchen knife and then “acting in a brutal and determined manner”.

“Moreover, the court considered that the motives given to justify the act were absurd and showed a total disregard for human life,” it said.

Prior to the murder, he had committed a range of offences, including sharing Islamic State propaganda material, and attempting to join IS in the conflict zone between Syria and Iraq.

Omer A. had set off in 2019 in a bid to reach Syria and join IS, although he did not make it further than Italy before turning back.

That same year, the court also said he had repeatedly attempted to set fire to a petrol station in a residential area, endangering lives.

And while in detention since his arrest the day after the murder in Morges, he had attempted to stab a prison guard in the throat.

Omer A. has shown no sincere regret, the court added.

The court said its decision to deprive him of liberty for 20 years — the longest sentence it could impose — “takes into account his moderately diminished criminal responsibility”.

Based on psychiatric reports, it said it had decided Omer A. should be held in a secure facility where he can receive inpatient therapeutic treatment.

This, it said, “is intended to prevent him from committing further crimes and reduce his dangerousness”.

Switzerland has not experienced any large-scale attacks attributed to Islamist extremism, but has in recent years seen some individual jihadist-linked attacks.