A man accused of pushing two lovers down a ravine in the Bernese Oberland has been sentenced to 19 years in prison. The public prosecutor’s office in front of the regional court in Thun demanded this on Thursday.
A 65-year-old man from the Bernese Oberland stood in front of the first-instance judges. He was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and various sexual offences.
The suspected perpetrator was tracked down after a driver found a completely soaked, freezing and injured Afghan on the road in the Gries Gorge in the Kiental in November 2019.
The young man reported something outrageous: he had been pushed into the gorge on purpose by an acquaintance, a Swiss from the area. He was initially able to cling to a tree, but the Swiss released his grip and fell into the torrent.
He managed to save himself on a sloping ledge, where he spent the night in mortal fear. The Afghan police reported the same thing. This immediately arrested the suspect Swiss.
Parallels to another case
Police soon found parallels to a case that had taken place in the gorge just a few months earlier. At that time, a young Afghan was also found dead below the Gries Gorge.
At the time, it was assumed that it was an accident due to a lack of other information. But now the investigators took this case under the microscope again.
As the prosecutor explained on Thursday, mobile phone data was found that showed that the alleged perpetrator also knew the subsequent fatality and had been in contact with him.
Accused denies murder
The defendant denied having anything to do with the death. He refused any statements on Thursday. On the other hand, the man admitted to knowing the Afghan who survived the fall into the gorge.
He had had a sexual relationship with the man for money, the accused said. The young Afghan stumbled while surveying in the gorge and fell into the ravine. He didn’t see him again after the fall and went home, assuming that any help would come too late.
Prosecutor believes statements of the victim
In her plea, the prosecutor relied entirely on the statements made by the victim. The Afghan testified consistently, in detail and credibly from the start. Footprints in the gorge and a faint trace of DNA on a tree near the creek supported his statements.
The defendant made a completely different statement. He refused to make any statements and remained vague about the core event. In addition, the man got involved in contradictions and changed his testimony again and again.
For the public prosecutor, there was enough evidence to conclude that the accused was a perpetrator. The public prosecutor’s office demanded a prison sentence of 16 years for the two alleged homicides alone, one of which was attempted. In addition, there are various suspected sexual offenses involving children and minors for a fee. Overall, the required sentence increased to 19 years.
Victim Attorney: Heartless behavior
The lawyer for the surviving Afghan stressed the great danger to his client’s life that evening and that night in the gorge. In contrast, the accused simply drove home without getting help, ate dinner and did office work.
That’s not behavior that someone is showing who has just seen a loved one disappear into the abyss without a trace, said the alleged victim’s lawyer.
He demanded an appropriate sentence and compensation of 30,000 francs for his client. The defense will make its plea on Friday. The verdict will open on October 17th.