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 Post subject: 250 Sri Lankan children sexually molested by Swiss national
 Post Posted: Mon May 09, 2005 12:35 am 
The horror of Viktor Baumann

by Amantha Perera
@ Sunday Leader 12JUL1998

Swiss national Viktor Baumann was sentenced to four and a half years in jail by a Zurich court two weeks ago following conviction on a number of paedophilia charges.

According to evidence, Baumann had sexually molested nearly 250 Sri Lankan children (some as young as 12 years) during a 14-year period from 1984 to 1996 in which the paedophile was resident here.

In the recent past, the Baumann scandal had swept through Ethukala, Negombo with pro and anti Baumann factions taking to the streets until his sudden deportation.

"Baumann may have been convicted in Switzerland, but his spirit is still here in Ethukala," said guest house operator Bonny (not his real name).

This was not mere sentiment. When The Sunday Leader visited Ethukala, traces of Baumman's presence lingered. His house is located off a by-lane, surrounded by high groves and houses. A huge black gate and a red parapet wall mark the entrance. A brand new four-wheel vehicle was parked under the portico.

Further on was a small black gate and several small buildings, of which the entrances were ominously covered with blue and red plastic sheets.

"This is the gate through which the boys were taken inside," our guide said.

We visited Ethukala's mixed government school principal Appuhamy's house. The principal was the first to bring the Baumann secret out into the open. It was a well kept public secret.

Appuhamy was not at home. "Why do you people want to drag these things out? It is all in the past. No good came out of it. My husband has suffered enough, " Appuhamy's wife said. Appuhamy, we were told, had suffered a heart-attack after receiving death threats, following his exposure of the scandal about which no one had previously dared speak of openly.

Bonny, too, had been the target of death threats after he helped a foreign media crew report on the Baumann case. He had been stabbed in the hand by an unknown assailant.

Baumann's factories are still functioning, even after the Zurich conviction. His house is occupied by his son and (Baumann's) partner, according to Ethukala residents. An employee of his Elsoma bulb factory, said the business is being run by a local named Lambert. The Zurich court proceedings revealed that Baumann still employs around 1500 Sri Lankans.

"Baumann was big. Baumann is still big around here," Bonny said.

Meanwhile, people who campaigned against Baumann have been constantly receiving death threats. The members of a local social services agency have been threatened with abduction and death by burning. A rumour circulating in the area is that Baumann's brother is in Sri Lanka vowing revenge.

"One day, I found a human finger on my doorstep. Do you doubt that the threats are real?" Bonny asked, to drive the point home.

Baumann was a powerful man. Child-rights activists working closely with the case revealed that Baumann was close to politicians from all parties.

His file had apparently reached the highest political circles of the country. Investigators reportedly feared a backlash emanating from these quarters. The deportation was the only remedy, according to one official.

"They waited till a political big shot of the area was out of the country to deport Baumann," he said.

Accusations flew in all directions, when the `boy-man's' pandora's box was opened. One official remarked he had heard a story that some of the area's religious leaders started gunning for Baumann's head after Baumann refused favours.

"Baumann operated without any difficulty for 14 years. He used to take boatloads of boys to his prawn farm in Chilaw without any difficulty," a social worker said.

Baumann arrived in Sri Lanka initially in the late '70's. He had rented out a four bedroom house. Bonny said Baumann's real business was child-sex and pornography.

"All his other businesses were fronts," he said pointing out that Baumann would have been part of a network.

The social services worker too substantiated the network theory.

"There were a few networks and there seem to be several at work now as well. Baumann led the network in the Negombo area. A foreign photographer was the mainstay in areas south of Colombo. There was one network reportedly functioning in the Belihul Oya area. There are several operational in the southern costal area," he said.

Although Baumann's exploitation of children was an open secret, there was another, apparently better, side to the man. He had helped many people and organisations in the area. But this too, many feel, was part of a mask.

"The man was a snake," Bonny said. "He ran a dental clinic also. People say that children were made unconscious there and all sorts of things done to them."

What actually went on inside Baumann's house is quite extraordinary and revolting "People say Baumann liked young boys, around ages 12-13."

So what about his victims? Though some are undergoing rehabilitation, Bonny was dismissive of them.

"They still roam the beaches," he said.

Bonny admits, however, that child-sex in the area has declined by half, or gone underground, after the Baumann case.

But `sex workers' and their exploiters are still at it. Bonny said he knows of around 115 houses built by foreigners and gifted to their young male lovers in the Negombo area.

He pointed out a guest house where a convicted child molester who was deported from Sri Lanka had returned and was engaging in his former misdemeanours.

"There is now another pervert who takes boys, removes their clothes, applies some cream and takes action photographs," Bonny said.

It is believed that Baumann exploited upto 200 children. But child rights activists put the figure at 1500. They say he molested sometimes five different children within a week.

One out of every five tourists coming to Sri Lanka is commonly believed to be after cheap sex. A BBC correspondent once reported that within two minutes of meeting a local pimp, he offered the correspondent the service of boys.

"Ah, you're a boy-man, no?" the tout is reported to have said with a knowing smile.

Given the inordinate fuss initially created, the Baumann sentence, some feel, is "a let down." But lawyer Arun Tampoe, who was a vital part of the legal team behind the scenes said that it was the best the Swiss legal system could deliver.

"Baumann obviously cut a deal and got out lightly," he said. Tampoe added, "If we tried him here, definitely he would have been acquitted and then turned into a hero. If that happened all who were involved with the prosecution would have been under tremendous pressure."

Tampoe dismisses any politics in the deportation.

"Now everybody is after the 50,000 francs Baumann is giving voluntarily. According to the Swiss legal system anybody who was involved with the case can make a claim. Baumann played the game according to the rules," Tampoe said.

Baumann, villagers said, was the kind of pervert who believed that as boys could not get pregnant, they were easy meat. His charge sheet (reproduced elsewhere on these pages) speaks for itself.

[size=16]`The kids are to blame' - Baumann

On the paradise beaches of Sri Lanka, a Swiss citizen enjoyed a harem of young boys.

Viktor Baumann (55) abused young boys in Sri Lanka on more than 250 occasions. He had kept his victims as in a children's harem. Now this `child-lover' has to spend 4 1/2 years in prison.

In the Zurich courthouse, Baumann shamelessly pushed the blame toward the victims and towards circumstances in Sri Lanka.

"Child sex was tolerated. To come into such contacts with children was not difficult."

The bearded Baumann, who resembled a high school teacher, did not utter a single word of regret.

The businessman had invested in three electronic appliances factories in Sri Lanka and employed more than 1500 persons. He entertained politicians and high-ranking police officials.

He spent freely for social organisations, churches and schools. "More than one and a half million francs (Rs 63 million)," he said. "I even paid for a renovation of a police station."

Presiding Judge Hoel of the district court: "Were they bribes?"

Baumann: "No bribes. That is Asia."

The judge arrived at the focal point," "When did you first feel paedophile inclinations?

Baumann: "I had problem perceiving them as such."

Presiding Judge: "Were you not already in love with a lad in secondary school?"

Baumann: "I only know of girls."

Presiding Judge: "Had you not been abused by older boys when you were at boarding school?"

Baumann: "I thought of it as normal in a boarding school"

Then the judge read out the charges. During his stay in Sri Lanka between 1984 and `96, Baumann molested dozens of boys. Sometimes upto 50 children were at the service of their benefactor. He fondled their genitals, aroused them orally and manually, and sometimes let himself be aroused by them. As payment, the children got around two francs each (Rs. 80). The youngest was 12.

"Did you also engage in not allowed?" the judge wanted to know.

"No, that is revolting to me," Baumann said.

Presiding Judge: "How did all this begin?"

Baumann: "When my wife left for Switzerland, I was left often alone. First the children came only to bathe in the pool. Then they came close. I was simply dragged into it all.

Judge: "How?"

Baumann: "The children used to go out in groups. They visited guest houses. There were 200 to 300 guest houses catering to child sex. Nobody bothered them."

Presiding Judge: "Did you ever feel any remorse?"

Baumann: "Sometimes I thought there would be a catastrophe. But I didn't manage to stop."

The attorney of the children, commenting on the testimony of Baumann said, "Cynical and tastelesss, he did it with children even at a time when posters warned about him."

The court ordered only a 4 1/2 year sentence as Baumann had confessed and as part of the acts he committed are subject to prescription (statute of limitations).

- Blick, Zurich.

The charge sheet against Baumann
27 February 1998
Charge sheet, District Court, Zurich

1. Sajith Lakmal Raj - Born 21.10.1985 in Sri Lanka
2. Sadis Anton Raj - Born 14.08.1983 in Sri Lanka
3. Dinesh Marshell Priyantha Lambert - B. 03.05.1982 in Sri Lanka
4. Samantha Gomes - B. 08.02.1985 in SL
5. Dinesh Asanka Almeida - B. 01.08.81 in SL
6. Pradeep Sanjeewa Fernando -B. 21.06.1982 in SL
7. Ajith Ranil Vije Almeida - B. 18. 01.1980 in SL
8. Jude Washon Cross - B. 06.02.1976 in SL
9. Vas Ajith Prasanna - B. 09.08.1980 in SL
10. Warnakulasooriya Gamini Kamal Fernando -B. 1978 in SL
11. Warnakalasooriya Shiras Dhammika Fernando - B. 1980 in SL
12. Roshan Sarath de Tissera Mihindukulasooriya - B. 18.10.1979 in SL
13. Anton Krishan Miranda - B. 1984 in SL
14. Lasantha Sudarashana - B. 1981 in SL
15. Don Nihal Ranjith Weerakkody B. 1979 in SL

Baumann Viktor - Born 15.02.1943 in Zurich. Married to Zyrd Maria Katharina, electronics engineer.

The accused Viktor Baumann had repeated sexual contacts with a child under the age of 16 years, seduced the child into such a relationship, or tempted him into such activity.

He attempted more than once to have sexual contacts with a child under the age of 16, to seduce the child in to such activity.

a) During the time period between August 1984 and October 1996 at his residence at 61, Sylvester Road, Ethukala, Negombo, Sri Lanka Baumann regularly engaged in at least between 242 to 262 incidents of homosexual contacts with minors who had not attained the age of 16. Between the time period of August 1984 till 1990/1992 he had three long-running homosexual relationships with minors below the age of 16.

In his bedroom, Baumann used to show films to minors, during 1990/91. At times he was with one minor, sometimes more, often with three to five minors. There were times when he had 30/50 minors in his bedroom. From the summer of 1994 he had shown sex films without pornographic quantity.

Baumann gave the minors, who engaged in sexual activities with him, schoolbooks, school material, clothes and shoes, or paid them money ranging from Rs. 10 to Rs. 250 on each occasion.

b) During his sexual engagements with the minors, Baumann pulled down their trousers, sometimes removed them, kissed them, stroked their........., fi....d them and m........d the boys, till they e.....d.. Baumann also had the ..... of the minors in his ..................

c) While fi......g the ...... of the minors, Baumann used to mast...e as well.

d) While the minors fo...d his ............., Baumann bared himself and ma......d.

e) Mainly during weekends, Baumann showered with boys of 14 upto 16 years. He stroked their ...... till eja....d Received oral sex. Made the children mast....e him till e.....d and when he did not have an e.....n the boys stroked his ........

f) The boys also engaged in sex-games with each other on his bed and had oral sex in the bathroom.

1. From August 1984 till sometime in 1987 Baumann fo........d an unknown 11-12 year old boy's ....... until e.....d and engaged the child in oral sex. He also m......d in the absence of the child.

2. From 1987 till 1992, Baumann fo.... two unknown children below 16 years, by stroking their ........ having oral sex and m.......d.

a) Between 1987 and 1992 Baumann fo........d boys from 10 years upto 16 years 30 to 50 times by stroking their .....s, having oral sex and m......d during the same time period.

b) Between 1987 to '90, Baumann sat on the arm of an armchair with Warnakulasooriya Gamini Kamal fernando and fon....d his ....

c) Between 1987 and '98 Baumann fon...d the ....... of Jude Washon Cross while the child was sitting on his lap with his trousers drawn down.

Sometimes Baumann placed his ...... between the ................................. The child was paid Rs. 200 each time.

d) On Christmas day of either 1989 or '92, Baumann indulged in oral sex with Roshan ............................ ..... .............................. .......................

a) Between 1992 and '95 Baumann abused unknown children within the ages of 10 to 16 by ......................s, oral sex and m......d. There were around 200 incidents.

b) Baumann fo...........d Anton ............... ................., while the child was watching a film on bed. The child was paid Rs. 50 each time.

c) In 1993, in the absence of other children, Baumann pulled down the trousers of Dinesh ............... ................. several times or unbuttoned the zip, fo........ the child's ...... and engaged in oral sex. He removed his own trousers, ordered Dinesh to touch, stroke............ till e...........d.

The child was paid Rs. 100/150 each time.

d) During 1993, Baumann had oral sex with Ajith ........... ............, in the presence of another boy known as `Aja'. He fondled .................. engaged in oral sex and m...........d.

Baumann also had oral sex with Aja's 18 year old brother in the presence of Ajith ........... ............ and Aja.

After two weeks, Baumann ordered Ajith ............. to ...............................He engaged in oral sex with the child till e.......d. Ajith was sometimes paid Rs. 100/200.

e) Sometime in 1993/94, 50 to 60 children were in Baumann's basement along with Ajith ........... .......... born in 1980. Baumann ordered two/three children to lie in his bed and stroked ........... Baumann pulled down the trousers of Ajith and in the presence of the other boys ...................................................................................................... till ej........d.

In addition, he took Ajith into his bedroom and removed his clothes and lay on bed with the child.

He ordered the child to ...................... and had oral sex with him. Baumann entered his ................................. engaged in a.... sex till e......d.The child was paid Rs. 100/-.

f) From 1990 till August '95 always on Sundays, Baumann fo.......d Lasantha ................. ............

g) In 1994/1995 or in February 96, during a period of one month, twice or thrice weekly, sometimes eight to 12 times, six to seven children including Pradeep ................ were in Baumann's room. He ordered two/three children to lie in his bed and ........................................................................................s.

He made Pradeep .............. in the presence of the other boys.......................................................... while Baumann was .................. the child's...............

The boys was paid Rs. 150 to 250.

h) Beginning 1995 Baumann ................................. of Dinesh ............................ ......................... ............. and six/seven other children. He was paid Rs. 10.

i) From October '95 till October '96 Baumann abused 12 unknown boys by ......................................... and oral sex. One child named Nihal ............ .................... alias Chutti has been fondled several times during this period.

b) From August 1995 till October 1995 or January 1996, mostly on Sundays, Baumann fon......... Sadis .......... ......... by ............. the child's ...................... and engaging in oral sex.

The child was paid Rs. 20/100/200 and was gifted clothes and school materials.

c) Baumann fon........ Sajith ........... ......... from August 1995 till January '96, sometimes without removing the clothes. He engaged in oral sex by unzipping the child's trousers.

The child was paid Rs. 20.

d) In 1993 or in January '96 Baumann abused Samantha ...................... (thrice before his eleventh b'day). Baumann undressed the child, made the child .......................... while Baumann .................................

On two further occasions Baumann removed Samantha ............. trousers, made him lie in bed, ma.........d and ................. into the ...... ... Samantha.

The child was paid Rs. 200.

Through the above activities, Victor Baumann is guilty of repeated sexual acts with children and of repeated attempts thereto, in the sense of Article 187, Art 23 Par 1, Art 6 Para 1, Art 35 Par of Swiss Criminal Code and has to be punished.

Signed District Attorney for Zurich.

The Swiss prosecutor speaks to The Sunday Leader

In May last year, Swiss District Attorney Peter Pellegrini was in Sri Lanka to gather evidence on the Swiss paedophile Victor Baumann who was deported from Sri Lanka. It was Pellegrini (who also acts as public prosecutor in the canton of Zurich) that filed charges against Baumann in Zurich. During his visit here in May, Pellegrini gave an interview to The Sunday Leader about the baumann case. Here we reproduce that interview with Sanayi Marcelline for the benefit of our readers.
Q: Victor Baumann is being prosecuted in Switzerland for crimes he committed here. Is this a new trend?

A: Yes and no. The facility to exercise extra territorial jurisdiction has been there in the Swiss penal code for 55 years, and as district attorney I have been to foreign countries to investigate murders etc. But for me this is the first time I have travelled across borders, for the case of a paedophile.

Q: Have you dealt with cases relating to paedophiles before this?

A: Yes but all of them were cases where the crime was committed in Switzerland.

Q: In Sri Lanka, child witnesses often face a hostile environment when giving evidence in courts. How effective are the Swiss courts in tackling child witnesses?

A: The children do not face a hostile environment. Actually they do not even have to give evidence in court. It is like this. As district attorney I will do the inquiring, interview witnesses and victims and compile the report. It will be handed over to the judges for them to take the decision. The witnesses do not have to appear in court and be questioned. Of course as public prosecutor I also interrogate the accused and file charges against him.

Q: Does the accuse appear in court?

A: Yes. He has to appear before the judges. The defendant is allowed to retain his own lawyer and if he cannot afford to obtain the services of a lawyer the state will provide him with one. Actually Baumann's lawyer was present in Sri Lanka while I was carrying out the inquiry.

Q: You mention that the findings of the inquiry will be handed over to the judges. How many judges will be adjudicating in his case?

A: There will be three judges. It is something like a district court, and for any offence that carries a sentence of over six months imprisonment, there are three judges to adjudicate. Actually even I have the authority to punish offences, but they are minor offences punishable upto there months imprisonment.

Q: If Baumann is convicted, what is the guarantee that after serving sentence he will not come back to Sri Lanka?

A: That I do not know. If he has committed the offence he will be punished and then he can go where he wants. We cannot tell him that after the punishment he can't go back to Sri Lanka. It is up to the Sri Lankan authorities to stop him from coming back to Sri Lanka.

Q: What has been the response in Switzerland to the Baumann case?

A: There was a public outcry against Baumann when he was deported. The media too has given a lot of publicity to the case.

Q: Are paedophile offences common in Switzerland or do you find that most Swiss paedophiles travel to Asia since the risk of getting caught is less?

A: It is both ways. Most of the cases I have handled are cases or offences committed in Switzerland. This is an exception. With this case we want to show or teach people that we are competent to go out of the country and even arrest and punish offenders of this nature, even if the crime is committed outside Switzerland.

Q: When you came to gather evidence for this extra-territorial trial, how did you known where to go and whom to interview?

A: Before we came to Sri Lanka we got in touch with the authorities...

Q: The Sri Lankan government?

A: Well... the foreign ministry which in turn got in touch with the police. The police then conducted an inquiry and sent us the information so that we can know the details. Without the help of the Sri Lankan police we could not have conducted our inquiry. There are also other organisations like NGOs who have interviewed abused children and we have got information from them too. But basically we rely on the police report. Once I get the police report I will tell the police what sort of evidence I am searching for and then I can conduct the inquiry and decide what sort of questions need to be asked according to the Swiss rules and regulations.

Q: If there are Sri Lankans who have some information on a Swiss paedophile, like Baumann for instance, whom do they give the information to?

A: The police, or they can send it to one of the district attorneys in Switzerland. If there are any victims they can send a report to us and we will be more than glad to help.

Q; Will Baumann be tried under Sri Lankan law or Swiss law?

A: Both. He will be tried under Sri Lankan law for the crimes he committed up to October 1995. And for the crimes he committed after October 1995 he will be tried under Swiss law.

Q: Why is he being tried under the laws of both countries?

A: This is because after October 1995 the Sri Lankan law changed with the amendment to the penal code. So for the crimes he committed after 1995 he will be tried under Swiss law. This means that he will get two years under Sri Lankan law and seven and half years under Swiss law.

Q: At a press conference where you were present there arose the question as to why Baumann was getting a lenient sentence under the Swiss law...

A: No no, it is lenient compared to Sri Lankan law. I want to explain this. Earlier the Sri Lankan punishment was only two years, and so it was small compared to the Swiss law, which gave a punishment of seven and a half years. Now with the amendment to the Sri Lankan law, the punishment has been increased to 20 years maximum imprisonment, so the punishment under Swiss law is small compared to the Sri Lankan punishment. In Baumann's case he will be getting two yeas under the Sri Lankan law and seven and a half years under the Swiss law, and this is for having sex with these boys. There will be other punishments coming in, like if he has used force, coercion, the sentence will automatically become longer.

"I was not worried about the age of the minors"

The legal proceedings against the 55-year-old Swiss businessman Viktor Baumann began on a Thursday. He was charged with sexually molesting more than one hundred minors during his stay in Sri Lanka between 1984 and 1996.

The district attorney recommended a prison sentence of 4 1/2 years. The defence pleaded for a sentence of 2 1/2 years and thereby the judgement was expected in the afternoon.

Baumann was accused of engaging in not less than 250 sexual contacts with minors under the age of 16 years during his stay in Sri Lanka. Only 15 of his victims were known by name. Baumann faced charges of engaging the minors in oral and partly in not allowed.

The prosecution pressed for a sentence of 4 1/2 years. The relatively mild application is due to the penalty-reducing admission. The attorneys of the victims argued that compensation around 20,000 francs be paid to each of the known 15 victims. The case is regarded as a forerunner as it is the first time a person within the Swiss legal system has been tried on child molestation charges committed or begun outside the borders of the country.

According to his own statements, the accused was well respected in Sri Lanka. He invested in an electronics factory that even today employs around 1300 persons. As paedophilia was not punishable by law in Sri Lanka till 1995, Baumann had no scruples of his deeds.

"To be honest, I was not worried about the age of the minors," he said. "The police and authorities would have been in the know about these activities. It was usual there those days."

The defence called for a sentence of two and half years. This too was to be a suspended sentence while Baumann underwent psychotherapy treatment.

The attorney argued to disregard the evidence of the victims. "The punishment should not be measured according to the actions but according to the circumstances in Sri Lanka," they said.

The accused was further prepared to pay 12-15 of the known victims a compensation of 5,000 francs and to donate 50,000 francs to a child-welfare institute working in Sri Lanka.[/size]

- Blick, Zurich

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