Doubts Over Swiss Attack Claims

BBC News, February 13, 2009

A Brazilian woman who said she miscarried twins after an alleged racist attack in Zurich was not pregnant, investigators have said.

Paula Oliveira, a 26-year-old lawyer, had said she was attacked by three knife-wielding skinheads on Monday.

However, medical experts said she was not pregnant, and that it was possible the numerous wounds on her torso and legs were self-inflicted.

Brazil had expressed concern to Swiss officials over the incident.

Forensic chief

Photos of Ms Oliveira showed her stomach and legs with some 100 cuts from a carpet knife, and the initials of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) carved into her body.

Inquiries are continuing, but Zurich University forensic medicine chief Walter Baer said “any experienced forensic doctor would not hesitate to assume that this was a case of self-infliction”.

All of the wounds were reachable by hand, and none were severe, he said.

Ms Oliveira said she had been speaking Portuguese outside a Zurich train station shortly before the attack.

Reports of the alleged attack had caused shock in Brazil where it had been widely reported along with graphic images of the wounds inflicted on Ms Oliveira.

Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim had described the assault as “grave” and “shocking”.

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