Swiss rapist snared on Polish border after therapist murder

GENEVA (AFP) - A Swiss-French rapist suspected of killing his female therapist during a day release trip was on Sunday snared in Poland, after a four-day international manhunt in a case that has rocked Switzerland.

"Polish police carried out an operation after receiving information that enabled the location of the suspected murderer," Geneva's prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Fabrice Anthamatten was arrested in the Polish-German border area, behind the wheel of the car in which he was believed to have fled Switzerland on Thursday, the office said.

Poland's police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told AFP the arrest was made by German officers in a cross-border pursuit near the northwestern Polish town of Police.

Convicted rapist Anthamatten -- a 39-year-old dual Swiss and French national with a criminal record in both countries -- is the prime suspect in the murder of prison therapist Adeline Morel.

Her body was found near Geneva on Friday, a day after she and Anthamatten went missing during a trip to a horse-riding centre which was part of the rapist's prison therapy.

Interpol issued a warrant for Anthamatten at Switzerland's behest, and police Friday locked onto the victim's mobile signal near the northern Swiss border city of Basel. Sniffer dogs then picked up his trail at a train station just inside Germany.

Morel, 34 and the mother of an eight-month-old child, had accompanied Anthamatten alone on what was only his second day-release from a Geneva detention facility.

Her death, in the wake of several high-profile cases involving sex offenders, has sparked outrage in Switzerland.

Leading activist Anita Chaaban said it was a wake-up call.

"We've crossed a line. This can't go on," she told the Sunday newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.

Chaaban said she would push for a referendum to create a centralised, life-long register of sex offenders, who would remain on the list even after having served their sentence.

Plebiscites are the bedrock of Swiss direct democracy, and in 2004 voters backed a law crafted by Chaaban to put violent sex offenders behind bars for life.

Separately, lawmaker Natalie Rickli of the populist Swiss People's Party said that she would table a bill banning day releases for sex offenders.

Switzerland is a federal republic where justice and police affairs are run by its 26 cantons, the equivalent of US states.

Beat Villiger, deputy head of the Swiss cantonal justice and police association, said that from now on only men should be allowed to accompany sex offenders on day release.

An experienced prison therapist, Morel was taking Anthamatten to a local equestrian centre as part of his treatment, after a positive report on a previous outing on September 3.

Anthamatten was serving 15 years for a rape committed in France while he was on parole in Switzerland, where he had already been sentenced to five years in another rape case.

French justice authorities had allowed him to be transferred to a Swiss jail to serve his sentence.

Geneva authorities have blocked all day releases for prisoners in the wake of Morel's death.