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Swiss would prefer Daesh fighters tried on site -minister

February 19, 2019 at 8:34 pm

Swiss Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter delivers her speech during an election meeting of the Federal assembly on 5 December 2018, at the House of Parliament in Bern. [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images]

Switzerland would prefer to have citizens who fought for Daesh tried on the spot rather than be brought home to face criminal charges, its justice minister said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The remarks by Karin Keller-Sutter echo reluctance by other European countries to take back combatants whose fate has become more pressing as US-backed fighters seek to capture the last enclave of Daesh’s self-styled Caliphate in Syria.

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday European countries must do more to take them back or “we will be forced to release them”.

“For me, the priority remains the security of the Swiss population and the Swiss security forces.” Keller-Sutter told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “Can we endanger the Swiss to repatriate people who have left of their own free will to wage war in Syria and Iraq?”

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“Is it possible to judge them on the spot? That’s what I would prefer,” she added.

“Gathering evidence (and) having a normal procedure on site is hard enough, so imagine Swiss courts suddenly having to judge what happened in Syria.”

Trump has pledged to pull US forces from Syria after Daesh’s looming territorial defeat, raising concerns in European capitals that militants from their countries could try to return home and pose a threat.

In its 2018 annual report, Switzerland’s intelligence service identified 93 cases of jihadi travellers who have left the country for war zones. Dozens of them have died and 16 had returned to Switzerland.

Of the militants it identified since 2001, 79 went to Syria and Iraq.