Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Swiss 'race' attack stuns Brazil

The belly of Brazilian Paula Oliveira after the attack in Zurich
Paula Oliveira received some 100 razor cuts on her belly

Brazil has called in the Swiss envoy to discuss an alleged skinhead attack near Zurich on a pregnant Brazilian woman that caused her to miscarry twins.

Three skinheads reportedly attacked Paula Oliveira, a 26-year-old lawyer, on Monday, leaving her badly scarred.

Ms Oliveira received some 100 cuts from a carpet knife, and the initials of the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) were also carved into her body.

Ms Oliveira's family says the assault was racially-motivated.

It says she had been speaking Portuguese outside a Zurich train station shortly before the attack.

"What they did to my daughter is like a horror movie," Ms Oliveira's father, Paulo, told Brazil's Globo TV.

The attack has caused shock in Brazil where it has been widely reported along with graphic images of the scars inflicted on Ms Oliveira, the BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo says.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim has described the assault as "grave" and "shocking".

Plea for patience

The facts surrounding the attack remain unclear but police in Zurich say a man called them on Monday evening to report that a woman in a train station needed help.

If that really was someone from our party... that person would be immediately kicked out
Oskar Freysinger
Swiss People's Party

The assault is said to have continued for about 10 minutes. Ms Oliveira told police that she had suffered a miscarriage shortly afterwards in a toilet near the train station.

Ms Oliveira was working as a lawyer for a big European company in Switzerland. She is said to have been living legally in the country for almost two years.

She is currently being treated at University Hospital Zurich.

No-one has been arrested in connection with the attack. Swiss police have asked for patience while the investigation is continuing and appealed for anyone who may have witnessed the attack to come forward.

However, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says the police did not make the appeal, or supply any public information about the attack, until after the case was reported in the Brazilian media.

'Country of law'

Our correspondent says the Swiss People's Party - whose name in German is "Schweizerische Volkspartei" (SVP) - is renowned for its anti-immigration stance, and has been accused of racism during political campaigns.

The belly of Brazilian Paula Oliveira after the attack in Zurich
It is claimed the letters SVP stand for "Schweizerische Volkspartei"

Its poster during the 2007 general election, showing white sheep kicking a black sheep out of Switzerland, caused international outrage.

However the party has always denied any connection with neo-Nazis, our correspondent adds.

It won almost 29% of the vote at the last election, and has for decades served in Switzerland's coalition government.

A spokesman for the party, Oskar Freysinger, condemned the attack and said Switzerland was a country of law, in which every individual deserved respect.

"If that really was someone from our party, we wouldn't hesitate for a second. That person would be immediately kicked out," he told the Associated Press.

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