Three rightwing extremists have gone on trial charged with brutally killing a fellow gang member near the resort of Interlaken.
Marcel von Allmen was murdered and dumped in a nearby lake in February 2001 for allegedly betraying their secret racist fraternity, the “Order of Aryan Knights”.
Police arrested four men, aged between 17 and 22, a few days after the 19-year-old’s body was found.
The four told police they had punished von Allmen for breaking the extremist group’s code of silence.
Von Allmen was allegedly lured to the gang’s hideout and beaten to death with an iron bar.
His body, which showed torture marks, was then tossed from an 80-metre-high cliff into the lake. Weights had been tied to his ankles.
On Monday three of the four suspects appeared before the district court in Bern at the start of a five-day trial. A fourth defendant, aged 17 at the time of the killing, was found guilty of murder in December 2001.
The trial of the remaining three suspects had been postponed several times to allow psychiatric reports to be prepared.
Police claim the rightwing group planned other killings between 1999 and 2000.
Von Allmen’s murder shocked local residents and prompted a series of silent marches against violence.
“These proceedings are necessary for the local people to come to terms with what happened,” said the president of the local community, Simon Margot.
The Order of Aryan Knights was reportedly set up in 1999 by two of the defendants to fight against the presence of foreigners in Switzerland.
However, police in Interlaken said they had no record of crimes being committed against foreigners prior to the arrests.
According to Hans Stutz, a specialist on the extreme right in Switzerland, there were 105 racist-related cases in 2003, compared with 120 in the previous year.
Offences included verbal racism, the distribution of racist leaflets, denial of the Holocaust and acts of violence.
Stutz, who has monitored the rightwing scene in Switzerland since 1989, compiles an annual report on behalf of the Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism.