On Thursday the Council of States advises the St. Gallen professional initiative “No limitation periods for serious criminals”. It will be a tremendous game for the initiators.

In the Council of States, the statute of limitations for serious crimes will be debated on Thursday.

F & uuml; For the abolition of the statute of limitations in the case of murder it will be extremely tight

National Councilor Mike Egger launched the initiative with 31 colleagues from the canton of St. Gallen when he was still a cantonal councilor there. Now he is campaigning for the cause in Bern.

F & uuml; For the abolition of the statute of limitations in the case of murder, it will be extremely scarce

The Zurich Council of States Daniel Jositsch (SP) is also campaigning for it.

That's what it's about

  • In Switzerland, crimes such as murder are statute-barred after 30 years.

  • A professional association from the canton of St. Gallen wants to change that.

  • The so-called crystal cave murders took place in this canton, which gave the impetus for the initiative. These have been statute-barred for nine years.

  • The Council of States will debate the initiative on Thursday.

  • The outcome is uncertain.

In the summer of 1982 Karin Gattiker and Brigitte Meier were murdered at the Kristallhöhle in Oberriet. The double murder has never been solved, the perpetrator or perpetrators are still running around free, unless they have since died. Since the acts are statute-barred, no one has anything to fear under criminal law. That should change for future deeds. When today's National Councilor Mike Egger (SVP SG) was still a member of the St. Gallen Cantonal Council, he and other politicians launched the professional status initiative entitled “No statute of limitations for serious criminals” and thus took the matter to the national political stage. So far, the initiative has been discussed in the legal commissions of both councils and then for the first time in the Council of States, where the plan to lift the statute of limitations was not followed up with 18 pro to 20 contra votes. The National Council just approved the initiative with 90 to 89 votes, which is why it will be discussed again in the Council of States on Thursday.

For relatives, murder is never barred

There it should also be a tremendous game. “It can tip over to one side or the other,” says criminal law professor and Councilor of States Daniel Jositsch (SP ZH). He is a proponent of the initiative. “If someone stole your bike ten years ago, you can probably laugh about it today,” Jositsch points out as an example. You can't do that in a murder case. “Especially for relatives of murdered children, the period of suffering is not just over at some point.” In the past, it was argued in debates about the statute of limitations that the quality of the evidence deteriorated over time. But that is clearly no longer the case today, rather the opposite. Thanks to technological advances, evidence that was previously meaningless is now relevant, such as DNA analysis.

Mike Egger (SVP SG) also sees it that way. “Forensics has made extreme advances.” He hopes that politicians will soon cut the old braid of the statute of limitations. According to Egger, the statute of limitations in the case of murder poses problems: “If a sexual offense against a child that was committed 30 years ago, followed by a murder, were resolved today, the perpetrator could still be held accountable for the sexual offense, but not for the murder,” says Egger angrily. He recently had contact with a family member of the victims of the five-fold murder in Seewen. «During the conversation it became clear that it is stressful for the bereaved when perpetrators no longer have to expect prosecution after the statute of limitations.»

Last remedy: Popular initiative.

p>Egger will follow the debate in the Council of States as a visitor on Thursday. He had previously sought talks with various councilors. If the Council of States votes in favor of the initiative, the Federal Council must draft a bill. If the Council rejects the initiative, it will be a rocky road to abolish the statute of limitations. “Then you would have to consider launching a popular initiative,” says Egger.

Re-examination hopeless

But what would actually happen if new evidence emerged in a statute-barred case? Although the crystal cave murder is statute-barred, the police always stressed that they are still receiving leads. However, according to the public prosecutor's office, these are no longer of any use: “The case is statute-barred. There will never be a re-investigation, indictment or judgment. ” Even if the St. Gallen canton police report relevant evidence of an alleged perpetrator in this case, the public prosecutor's office issues a so-called no-action order, which means that no criminal investigation will be initiated because the case is statute-barred and the law provides for this.

Current legal situation

According to Article 97 StGB, criminal prosecution for criminal offenses is statute-barred after 30 years if the maximum sentence threatened for the offense is life imprisonment. In the case of a prison sentence of more than three years after 15 years and in the case of a prison sentence of three years after ten years. Sexual acts with children under the age of twelve, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and qualified terrorist acts are not subject to the statute of limitations in Switzerland. In the neighboring countries of Germany and Austria, murder does not expire. (taw)

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teresa@ntelegram.com 1-800-268-7341

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