TAGES-ANZEIGER

‘Pretty Woman’ Gone Wild: Prostitute Convicted For Stalking Swiss Banker

A 39-year-old Bosnian-born sex worker in Zurich hounded a former client who had tried to break off their relationship. She was convicted of several charges, though the court found her not guilty of "coercion" to have sex.

Prostitution in Switzerland is legal (85mm.ch)
Prostitution in Switzerland is legal (85mm.ch)

*NEWSBITES

ZURICH - "What I don't get is how you violently force a man who is 190 cm (6" 2"") tall, against his will, to drop his pants," said a 39-year-old masseuse and sex worker. The defendant was explaining to a Zurich district court earlier this week why she couldn't be convicted for sexual coercion.

The woman was right on that score – she was not sentenced for coercion, but nevertheless received a 24-month prison sentence for stalking a banker for nearly two years, pressuring him into sex, and other charges.

The sex worker and the married banker – who at the time worked in a top management position in a large Swiss bank – met in 2008. By January 2009, he wanted to break off all contact, but she had fallen in love. So for the next two years, she called, texted and e-mailed him incessantly.

The woman threatened that she would kill herself – or him – and that she would tell his wife about the extramarital affair. Other threats included contacting his work colleagues and telling them stories about him, or showing up at his home or place of work. "You have exactly until 1 PM," reads one text message from the sex worker to the banker. "If we haven't set up a date by then I will take action." A "date" meant "have sex."

That threat and others worked. The banker met the sex worker several times during the stalking period. According to him, the deal was "I'd show up at her place with coffee and croissants, and we would talk. But the way it worked was, she got sex, and I didn't have a chance to drink my coffee or eat my croissant."

His complaint states that he had to have sex with the woman against his will, both because of her threats and her regular locking of the door to her apartment and hiding the key.

To escape the constant solicitations, the banker had to change his habits. He put his business cell phone into silent mode, and deactivated voice mail as well as his home landline. Ultimately, his complaint states, he had to sell his house, he lost his job, and his wife filed for divorce.

The sex worker, a Bosnia-born woman who came to Switzerland when she was two years old, denied none of the charges against her except for sexual coercion. She also declared that there wasn't a man in the room who hadn't used the services of a sex worker, a claim vigorously denied by the judge.

With regard to the sexual coercion charge the court found that the pressure wasn't "strong enough" to constitute coercion. The sex worker was also charged with having misled authorities by neglecting to mention that she earned up to 14,000 Swiss francs ($15,500) a month from prostitution, which meant that she was not entitled to the 220,000 Swiss francs ($246,000) support payments for herself and her daughter that she had been receiving from the state. She was also charged with threats and violence against authorities, and disrespect to two police officers to whom she addressed as "son of a bitch" and "asshole."

However because the psychiatrist who examined the woman reported that she has a "borderline" personality disorder and is emotionally unstable, she will not have to serve the 24-month prison sentence but undergo therapy instead.

Read the original full article in German by Thomas Hasler

Photo - 85mm.ch
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Geopolitics

How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.


But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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