Explosives find at the Thayngen customs post: Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland files indictment
Bern, 22.08.2022 - On 3 November 2021, a car that had been driven to Switzerland from the Netherlands through Germany was stopped and checked at the Thayngen customs post. Inside the vehicle, in addition to various other suspicious items, four packages containing around two kilogrammes of explosives in total were discovered. The 51-year-old driver of the vehicle was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has now filed an indictment against him in the Federal Criminal Court, primarily on charges of transporting explosives and offences under the Explosives Act.
The OAG has filed an indictment in the Federal Criminal Court against the Dutch national, who is resident in the Netherlands, charging him with the following offences: manufacture, concealment and transport of explosives and toxic gases (Art. 226 para. 2 of the Swiss Criminal Code [SCC]), offences under the Explosives Act (Art. 37 f. Explosives Act) and offences under the Road Traffic Act (Art. 96 f. Road Traffic Act).
Transport of explosives
In addition to around two kilogrammes of explosives, the items that the suspect was carrying included:
- A cat’s paw tool, a hammer, a sledgehammer and two sets of bolt cutters
- Four plastic canisters containing 25 litres of petrol
- Pairs of false vehicle registration plates
- Remote triggers, metal U-profiles, metal sheeting and metal rods
- An “Albatross” hand flare
According to the indictment, the suspect was planning to deliver the explosives and the other items mentioned above to unknown persons in Switzerland. The OAG alleges that he was aware that the packages were in a bag in the vehicle he was driving and he at least assumed and accepted that they contained explosives. In addition, he should have known or at least assumed that the explosives were intended to serve a criminal purpose and would have been used with the intention of committing a further misdemeanour or felony. It is therefore suspected that the items being transported were to be used to blow open an ATM.There was no evidence at any time of any connection with a terrorist motivated offence; this remains the current position.
Offences under the Explosives Act
The import of explosives and pyrotechnic devices like the hand flare mentioned above into Switzerland is either not permitted or only permitted with official authorisation. The suspect had no such authorisation. In addition, according to the indictment, he was in breach of the protective and safety regulations by transporting the explosives.
Offences under the Road Traffic Act
Furthermore, it has been established that the car driven by the suspect had been reported stolen in the Netherlands. As he was driving the vehicle without the vehicle registration document and without third party insurance and as it transpired that the vehicle’s registration plates were false, the OAG has also indicted the Dutch national on multiple offences under the Road Traffic Act.
Conduct of the proceedings
The proceedings have been conducted by the OAG because it is responsible for prosecuting explosives offences under Articles 224-226ter SCC. Furthermore, thanks to close cooperation at national and international levels, it has been possible to make swift progress in the proceedings and bring the matter to a rapid conclusion. This is the case even though certain enquiries, such as a search of the suspect’s home in the Netherlands, had to be carried out by way of mutual assistance, which prolongs the proceedings. The OAG wishes in particular to thank the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS), the Schaffhausen Cantonal Police, fedpol and the responsible authorities in the Netherlands for their excellent cooperation on this matter.
The suspect has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest on 3 November 2021. On filing the indictment, the OAG applied to the competent compulsory measures court for the suspect to be placed in preventive detention.
With the filing of the indictment, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona becomes responsible for answering any further media enquiries; this also applies to questions about the suspect’s detention status. As is customary, the OAG will make its proposals for sentencing known at the main hearing. The presumption of innocence applies until a final judgment has been issued.
Address for enquiries
Communications Service of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, firstname.lastname@example.org, T +41 58 464 32 40
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland