Swiss court sentences 'IS' knifewoman to nine years

BELLINZONA, Switzerland: A Swiss woman was given a nine-year jail term on Monday for slashing two people in the name of the Islamic State group but her sentence was suspended so she can undergo psychiatric treatment.

The criminal court judges found the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, guilty of two counts of attempted murder. She was also found guilty of terrorism-linked charges.

She had "no respect for human life", court president Fiorenza Bergomini said as she read out the verdict.

She had "acted in cold blood, had planned her actions and decided what weapon to use, and where to buy it", Bergomini continued.

The 29-year-old woman's mental state has been at the heart of the trial at Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, in the Italian-speaking Ticino region where the attack occurred.

The attack, in which no-one died, took place on November 24, 2020, in the plush Manor department store in Lugano, southern Switzerland.

The woman had suddenly lunged at two random women shopping at the store, attempting to slit their throats.

According to the indictment from the Office of the Attorney General, the accused "acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness", shouted "Allahu akbar (God is greatest)" and "I will avenge the Prophet Muhammad", and declared "I am here for IS", the Islamic State jihadist group.

One of the two victims suffered a serious neck injury, while the second sustained wounds on one hand and managed, with others, to control the assailant until the police arrived.

The attacker was on Monday found guilty of "repeated murder attempts" and of violating the Swiss laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related Islamist groups.

She also faced charges of repeated unlawful prostitution between 2017 and 2020.

The daughter of a Swiss father and a Serbian mother, the woman's adolescence was marred by anorexia and she did not attend secondary school.

Aged 19, she married a man of Afghan origin and converted to Islam. The pair divorced last year.

After falling in love over social media in 2017 with a jihadist in Syria, she attempted to travel to meet him.

But she was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, where she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic, police said. -- AFP

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