Everyone in custody in the canton of Aargau is much more likely to be released than in other cantons.
Law enforcers can arrest defendants. However, they can only do this for more than 96 hours if a judge – a so-called mandatory criminal judge – approves it. To keep a suspected perpetrator in custody for longer, there must be an urgent suspicion and the danger that he will flee, destroy evidence, influence witnesses or insult again.
As an investigation by SRF Data and the Rundschau shows, these mandatory arbitrators judge very differently: in 2017, for example, they rejected 9.9 percent of all applications from prosecutors at U-Haft in the Canton of Aargau; in the Canton of Bern, however, only 1.8 percent. In the cantons of Vaud or Solothurn, even only 1.3 percent.
Blind flight in the Canton of Zurich
Particularly shocking: the Canton of Zurich, which imposes the most mandatory measures in all cantons, can not say how many applications have been approved by law enforcement officials and how many are rejected. The courts do not charge this number.
Apparently the authorities have recognized this defect. "In the context of the overall review of the annual report, we check whether and to what extent the data can be statistically recorded from 2019," says Andrea Schmidheiny, media officer at the Supreme Court of Zurich.
«We check every measure exactly»
The differences between the cantons are amazing – precisely because the new Federal Penal Code of 2011 wanted to standardize cantonal practice. How can someone explain that judges of Aargau stop law enforcement five times more often than Bernese colleagues?
Do the judges in the Canton of Bern simply complain to prosecutors with their prosecutors? "No, certainly not," says Jürg Zinglé, chairman of the court for mandatory measures of the Canton of Bern. «We check with every measure whether the legal requirements are met and whether it is proportionate».
That his court approves nearly 100 percent of all coercive measures, Zinglé explains that prosecutors only apply in clear cases. "Public prosecutors know the court's practice for mandatory measures and do not make hopeless requests, and the public prosecutors are reluctant to take such measures because they cause a lot of work."
Reasons remain in the dark
But how does he explain the big difference with the Aargau canton that the prosecutors whistle five times? "I can not explain the difference on the basis of the figures alone, but you should take a closer look at the concrete decisions."
Do the prosecutors of Aargauer make worse than the Bernese colleagues? "You can not say that", answers Peter Rüegg, director of the court for mandatory measures in the canton of Aargau. "It may also be that the Aargauer judge is looking more closely, the quota alone says nothing," says Rüegg.
And adds: "But actually I think it's a softening citizen, if almost 10 percent is rejected, as if almost all requests from prosecutors are approved." Rüegg also sees the difference as striking. He would appreciate it if you would investigate further.
Look closer, research further – that is what is said faster than done. The mandatory measures courts keep their decisions secret in almost all cantons.
Collaboration: Timo Grossenbacher.
So the data has been collected
SRF collected the number of decisions in the courts for mandatory measures from all Swiss cantons in 2017 – divided into rejections and approvals and by area (pre-trial detention, detention, substitute measures and secret monitoring measures). Partially approved applications were counted as approvals. Before the pre-trial detention, both the order and delivery were included (but not the release). In the cantons of Friborg and Geneva, the figures for pre-trial detention are shown together with custody and alternative measures.
Although almost all cantons have responded, only 18 cantons indicate how many applications have been approved or rejected. Among them are five of the six most populated – but the Canton of Zurich is missing. In the St. Gallen canton, the regional court did not want to provide figures. About 60 percent of the Swiss population lives in the cantons whose data are analyzed.
SRF publishes the collected data here, Link opens in a new window at leisure.
More on this subject in the "Rundschau" – starting today at 8:05 PM.