Swiss protest against court ruling reducing rapist’s sentence

'Only yes means yes,' said one of the banners outside the Basel courthouse on Sunday Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Around 500 people have protested in front of a Swiss appeals court that last month reduced the prison sentence of a rapist. The judge argued that the rape lasted only 11 minutes and that the victim had been “playing with fire” and had not been severely injured.

This content was published on August 8, 2021

The mostly female protesters in front of the Basel courthouse on Sunday held up banners and shouted “11 minutes are 11 minutes too many!” They slammed the court’s ruling, which had lowered the now 33-year-old rapist’s partly conditional prison sentence from 51 months to 36 months, meaning the defendant will be released next week.

In last month’s ruling, the female judge also said the female rape victim had sent out “certain signals” and that “it must be noted that [the victim] was playing with fire”, Swiss media reported. A spokeswoman for the court refused to explain that statement by the judge.

The rape took place in February 2020 after a visit to a nightclub. The woman was raped by the 33-year-old and his 17-year-old companion, who is currently being tried in a Swiss juvenile court. No identities have been revealed.

A lawyer for the victim said she was shocked by the appeal court’s verdict, which appeared to partially blame the victim for the rape.

The judge announced the verdict in the courtroom last month but a written ruling would only be published in a few weeks, the court said. The victim and the cantonal public prosecutor said they would wait for this written ruling before deciding whether to take the matter to the Federal Court.

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