Swiss psychiatrist on trial for hit and run, violence and threats

October 11, 2011

The Court of Lausanne (Switzerland) was hearing the case yesterday an alcoholic and tranquilizer-addicted psychiatrist, on charges of causing a serious street accident, of violence and threat.

“Usually, when I was drinking, I wasn’t leaving my home. I was anaesthetized,” he specified with a controlled voice. On an evening in October 2006, it would have been better for him to have stayed at home. The approximately 50-year-old psychiatrist “G.F.” however decided to go to a nightclub with a friend, perhaps in order to forget an unpleasant visit during the afternoon with a cantonal (a “canton” is the Swiss equivalent of a state or province) doctor and two police inspectors. He will confess later, according to his neighbor and girlfriend, that they had taken away his right to practice because he asked some wealthy patients to borrow money in order to pay back some gambling debts. He is currently living on a disability benefits.

The aforementioned night in October 2006 will remain marked in the body of a young woman and her companion. They unfortunately walked through the Chauderon Place in Lausanne and in front of the psychiatrist’s car. “It was raining, my last memory was to start walking through the pedestrian crossing, she tells. “Then I awoke in the hospital. I don’t have any memory how the accident happened, I’m very glad of it…” She will need more than two months to recover from her multiple fractures. Her friend received similar injuries. The reckless driver continued on his way without taking care of the wounded persons and was found at home some hours later. A toxicological examination revealed that he had taken some benzodiazepines (minor tranquilizers in the same class as Xanax or Ambien) “at the maximum of the therapeutic values” and that he had also drunk alcohol.

Amnesic about the circumstances of the accident, G.F. asserts that he drunk most probably when he came back home. In fact, if he were to tell the truth, his blood alcohol rate was at that time between “only” 0.56 and 1.34%, and if he were to lie, it would be between 2.43 and 3.21%. Thinking toward the worst, his lawyer showed a judgment of the Federal Court saying that, when the rate is higher than 3%, one can consider the guilty person as being irresponsible for his acts. Not always. “An blood alcohol rate of 3% brings a coma by the ordinary mortals, explains the psych expert who testified for the defense. But there are some accustomed persons who can still drive. Here, the defendant, who recognized he had an abusive consumption of alcohol and benzodiazepines for years, was sufficiently in possession of his means to drive back home.”

“He slapped me and dragged me with the hair through the flat. I thought that he was crazy” -- female neighbor of G.F.

G.F. is moreover accused of violence and threat against a neighbor female friend, which occurred in 2009. “This friendship was becoming cumbersome,” she says. “One day, he didn’t look like he was feeling very good. He came in my flat. I accompanied him to his flat as I was afraid that he would stay forever. Without reason, he slapped me and dragged me by my hair through the flat. I thought that he was crazy. He took me by the neck, saying ‘within two minutes, you are dead.’ I fortunately could leave the flat.” She filed a complaint against him and received a series of text messages she interpreted as veiled threats. G.F. attempted to minimize his conduct in sending the messages. “Did he talk to you about the accident of 2006?” asked the magistrate to the plaintiff. “Yes. He was saying that he was very affected by it. He added that he didn’t want to give up his disability benefits as he knew that this court case would cost him money.”

Verdict to come.

Source: Georges-Marie Bécherraz,"The psychiatrist who had a little bit lost his reason," 24 Heures, September 27, 2011


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