Swiss woman convicted of terrorism after Lugano stabbing in 2020

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with AFP
Police walk near the area where the stabbing occurred in a department store in Lugano.
Police walk near the area where the stabbing occurred in a department store in Lugano.   -   Copyright  Pablo Gianinazzi/Ti-Press/Keystone via AP, File

A young woman in Switzerland has been convicted on terror charges after stabbing two people in Lugano in 2020.

The 29-year-old -- who was known to the police and suffers from mental health issues -- was found guilty of committing a "terrorist act" and "repeated attempts to murder".

She was sentenced to nine years in prison and will also have to undergo medical treatment.

Prosecutors say that the woman "intentionally" tried to slit the throats of two women in a department store in the city.

During the attack, she is accused of shouting "Allahu Akbar" and proclaiming her support for the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

One of the two victims was seriously injured in the neck. The second woman was wounded in the hand but managed to subdue her attacker with other people until the police arrived.

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona said she had "no respect for human life" and had "acted in cold blood, planned the act, decided on the weapon to be used, where to buy it".

Defence lawyers had argued she was "incapable" of knowing her motive for the knife attack.

"She brutally attacked her randomly chosen victims with a knife with the aim of killing them and thus spreading terror among the population in the name of IS," federal prosecutors said.

One of her two victims has filed a civil lawsuit, claiming 440,000 Swiss francs (€450,000).

She was also charged with prostitution offences between 2017 and 2020.

According to prosecutors, the young woman had a Swiss father and a Serbian mother. She allegedly converted to Islam after marrying an Afghan national, whom she finally divorced last year.

Police say that she had "fallen in love" online with a jihadist fighter in Syria and that she had tried to join him in 2017 before being arrested at the Turkish-Syrian border.

She was then sent back to Switzerland and placed in a psychiatric institution. Expert witnesses say the woman suffered from a form of schizophrenia and was at risk of reoffending.

The attack in November 2020 came just weeks after a Turkish-Swiss national stabbed a passer-by in the Swiss town of Morges in another suspected terrorist incident.

Federal police say the terror in Switzerland is still "high" following the two separate attacks.