Murder (Swiss law)

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For a general discussion of the law of murder, see murder.

In Switzerland murder (Mord, Assassinat or Assassinio respectively in German, French or Italian) is also used for the premeditated killing of another person, but only if the motives are cruel, disgusting or show an overall disrespect of human life. Penalty ranges from ten years to life imprisonment.

Furthermore, homicide is considered murder if it is cruel (e.g. inflicts great pain on the victim) and/or unusual, done so using explosives or arson, or if it is done to satisfy perverse lusts.

Any homicide not meeting these standards is considered to be a killing (Tötung, Meurtre or Omicidio), and the penalty is not as heavy. Most homicides in Switzerland are considered killings, with the penalty ranging from 5 to 20 years.

The Swiss equivalent for manslaughter is Totschlag, Meurtre passionel or Omicidio passionale. Killers are sentenced for Totschlag when they committed the crime in a very, and especially excusable, state of excitement (a "crime of passion"). For example, a wife who's been mistreated by her husband for years, and kills him in a fit of rage, would be sentenced for Totschlag. The penalty is one to ten years in prison.

There are many other privileged variants of killing, similar to manslaughter, such as killing on demand of the "victim"; or assisted suicide, in which case the punishment is considerably lower; this latter is only punishable if there are selfish motives. The "assisted suicide" in general is not punishable.

The relevant articles of the Swiss Penal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) are 111 to 117 (and in a certain measure, 118 to 120), which can be read in the Swiss Penal Code, second book, in French,[1] Italian,[2] or German.[3] An official English translation is available, but not legally binding.[4]

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