'Eco-terrorist' jailed for killing border guard

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The Independent Online

A court in Zurich has found Swiss "eco-terrorist" Marco Camenisch, 52, guilty of murdering a border guard in his home village of Brusio in 1989. He was given a 17-year sentence, outraging radical ecological activists who view Camenisch as a heroic political prisoner.

Camenisch was originally imprisoned in 1980 for bombing a power station but escaped in 1981. He was rearrested in Italy in 1991 for bombing electricity pylons, before being extradited to Switzerland to stand trial for the murder of the border guard.

His trial was subject to tight security after letter-bomb attacks and other incidents in several European countries. It began amid violent protests in Zurich and later an arson attack on a communications tower temporarily blocked television broadcasts. A spray-painted message at the scene demanded: "Free Marco Camenisch!". Camenisch was initially allowed to stay away on medical grounds but was subsequently reassessed and ordered to attend. He vouched only that he would never shoot a "helpless, unarmed man". The murdered guard was armed.

Police tests confirmed the weapon Camenisch was carrying at the time of his arrest was used in the Brusio murder. There were allegations, however, that the police were negligent in their handling of this and other evidence.

Camenisch's lawyer claimed that the evidence was circumstantial and inconsistent, but Ulrich Weder, the prosecutor, told the three judges and nine jurors that it formed a "mosaic", ultimately offering a clear picture. After being asked to identify himself, Camenisch had shot the guard in the head.