Zug, 18.10.2019

Convicted Eritrean has sentence reduced but remains subject to seven-year ban on returning to Switzerland

Earlier this year the Zug criminal court sentenced an Eritrean national to a 27-month sentence and banned him from Switzerland for seven years after he was found guilty of affray and grievous bodily harm towards a compatriot in an incident 2017. Now the Zug supreme court has reduced his sentence but upheld the seven-year ban.

It was on 2 December 2017 that the then 18-year-old followed a compatriot to the toilets after a dispute on the dance floor at a party and hit him with a beer bottle causing the victim to sustain a four centimetre-long cut and bruise, “setting on him again outside the premises with a bar”.

As mentioned, the now twenty-year-old, was handed a 27-month sentence in February, 12 of which had already been spent in custody, meaning he was at liberty again. Nevertheless, he was still subject to the seven-year ban on returning to Switzerland.

While the convict admitted the grievous bodily harm, he denied the offence of affray outside the premises where the party took place. As there was no proof, his lawyers decided to appeal against this conviction at the canton’s supreme court. It was mentioned by some others who witnessed the affray that the bar could have been the branch of a tree. Furthermore, it was not clear who started the scuffle, the subsequent convict saying he had only wanted to defend himself.

The judges at the cantonal supreme court accepted the subsequent convict may well have wanted to defend himself. Based on the diverging accounts of other witnesses, however, it was not clear whether there were other victims or attackers, and for a conviction of affray, a minimum of three people has to be directly involved. Hence the conviction of affray was duly dropped.

The court heard a how the convict had subsequently decided to give up drinking alcohol and had embarked on a training and language course; his lawyers subsequently calling for the initial prison sentence to be reduced to 18 months and the seven-year ban reduced to five. However, the initial 27-month sentence was reduced by three only to 24, and the ban on returning to Switzerland for seven years upheld.

At present is not known whether the Eritrean will take the case to the Swiss Supreme Court in Lausanne.