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Originally published Friday, February 13, 2009 at 6:15 PM


Swiss police: Woman may have faked skinhead attack

The Brazilian woman who claimed to lose her unborn twins in a skinhead attack was not pregnant and probably carved the initials of Switzerland's main right-wing party into her own skin, investigators said Friday.

Associated Press Writers


The Brazilian woman who claimed to lose her unborn twins in a skinhead attack was not pregnant and probably carved the initials of Switzerland's main right-wing party into her own skin, investigators said Friday.

Police said in a statement that 26-year-old Paula Oliveira was not three months pregnant Monday, when she claimed that an attack by three skinheads, one with a Nazi symbol tattooed on the back of his head, caused her to miscarry twins.

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. Areas particularly sensitive for women - the breasts, navel and outer genitals - were not injured, he said.

He added, however, that an investigation was still ongoing.

Police said Oliveira claimed she was attacked outside a Zurich train station, and that the assailants cut the initials of Switzerland's main right-wing party into her stomach and legs.

Pictures of her scarred body appeared in newspapers and Brazil's Foreign Ministry had raised the possibility that she was the victim of an anti-foreigner attack. The ministry said Friday it would not comment on the case until the police conclude their investigation.

Initial news of the report shocked the Swiss public and outraged Brazilians, whose president condemned it. "I think we can't accept and we can't stay quiet facing this remarkable violence against a Brazilian woman abroad," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

Later he said he did not want to delve into the matter any more because the information he had was one day old.

"The matter is being investigated and is being taken very seriously by the Swiss police," Silva told reporters. "These matters should be conducted in secrecy. Let's wait for an official announcement by the Swiss police."

Even before the independent gynecological and forensic conclusions were released, some Swiss newspapers and politicians had suggested the woman's story might have been made up, like some other alleged attacks.

Last year, an 18-year-old woman in Germany was convicted of faking a neo-Nazi attack by carving a swastika into her skin. In 2004, a young French woman admitted to lying about having been robbed on a train by a knife-wielding gang that mistook her for a Jew and scrawled swastikas on her body - but only after the alleged attack was condemned by then-President Jacques Chirac.


And in October, a volunteer for John McCain's presidential campaign agreed to enter a probation program for falsely reporting that a Barack Obama supporter robbed and assaulted her and scratched a "B" on her cheek.

The woman's father has blamed Swiss police for dragging their feet on a potentially embarrassing investigation and criticized those who suggested his daughter had lied.

"They're trying to transform the victim into a criminal. This is the tactic of a Nazi militia," Paulo Oliveira told the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Oliveira's fiance, investment consultant Marco Trepp, claimed she was still terrified by the attack, which he said occurred only days after she accepted his marriage proposal.

"She's in a post-traumatic phase, scared of everything, especially to walk on the street," Trepp told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. "Last night, she had lots of nightmares. She couldn't sleep well. She woke up sweating, screaming."

Photographs of the smiling woman have been splashed across newspapers next to those of a bare stomach and legs with the initials SVP - presumably for "Schweizerische Volkspartei" (Swiss People's Party).

The Swiss People's Party has taken a hardline stance against immigrants and pressed to toughen asylum laws and make it easier to expel foreign nationals. However, the party is part of Switzerland's broad coalition government and has never had links to neo-Nazism.


Klapper contributed to this report from Geneva. AP writer Carolina Escalera in Sao Paulo, Brazil, also contributed.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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