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Switzerland Orders Community Service for Returned IS Jihadist

Switzerland has ordered a returned recruit of the Islamic State group to do 600 hours of community service and will not send him to prison, in the country's first sentencing of a foreign jihadist fighter.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber's ruling went into effect this week, he told public broadcaster RTS late Wednesday.

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Kerry, Lavrov to Meet Thursday on Ukraine, Mideast

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at an OSCE meeting on Thursday in Basel, Switzerland, a U.S. official said, with topics set to include Ukraine and the Middle East.

The official said Kerry -- in Brussels Wednesday for a meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group -- and Lavrov would "discuss a range of topics of mutual interest including issues related to the Middle East."

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Ex-Concert Pianist is New Swiss President

The Swiss parliament on Wednesday elected justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga, a former concert pianist, to the largely symbolic position of president of Switzerland.

The choice of the 54-year-old was all but certain as it was her turn among the seven-member Federal Council, or government, to take the rotating one-year presidency.

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Swiss Voters Flatly Reject 'Green' Immigration Cap

The Swiss rejected three issues put to a popular vote Sunday, including calls to cap immigration in the name of saving the environment, according to initial results and projections.

Results published by a handful of the country's 26 cantons, including Geneva, showed voters flatly rejecting the so-called Ecopop initiative, as well as bids to scrap special tax breaks for rich foreigners living but not working in Switzerland, and on forcing the central bank to increase its gold reserves.

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Swiss Museum Accepts Nazi-Era Art Hoard Bequest

A Swiss museum said Monday it would accept a German recluse's bequest of a spectacular trove of more than 1,000 artworks hoarded during the Nazi era.

The decision, announced at a press conference in Berlin, covers priceless paintings and sketches by Picasso, Monet, Chagall and other masters that were discovered by chance in 2012 in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt.

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Iraqi Trio Held by Swiss over Suspected IS Attack Plot

Swiss authorities confirmed on Friday that three Iraqis arrested in March are suspected of having planned a terrorist attack in Europe on behalf of the Islamic State group.

At the end of March, authorities "arrested three Iraqi citizens suspected of providing support to the criminal organization known as the Islamic State (IS)," Switzerland's attorney general said in a statement.

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Five Swiss Dead in French Chopper Crash

Five Swiss people died and two more were injured on Thursday when their helicopter crashed in France, only a few meters away from a house, French officials said.

The EC130 helicopter came down in the garden of a suburban house near the city of Montbeliard, some 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the Swiss border, French police said.

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Japanese Climber, Two Europeans Killed in Himalayas

Two European climbers have been swept away by an avalanche while a veteran Japanese mountaineer has plunged to his death in a separate tragedy in the Himalayas, officials said Saturday.

A European team of elite mountaineers were 100 metes shy of summiting the world's 14th-highest peak -- China's 8,027-meter (26,335-foot) Shisha Pangma peak -- when Wednesday's avalanche hit.

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Iraqi Trio Detained by Swiss over Alleged IS Plot

Three Iraqis arrested in Switzerland in March are suspected of having planned an attack in the name of the Islamic State group, Swiss media reported Wednesday.

The daily newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported that Switzerland's Federal Intelligence Service had been tipped off by a western counterpart which intercepted the men's phone calls.

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Switzerland Expands Blacklist over Ukraine Crisis

Switzerland on Wednesday added 11 names and five banks to its blacklist over the Ukraine crisis in fresh moves to stop the country from being used to avoid EU sanctions against Russia.

The government in a statement said it had taken "all the measures required to ensure that the most recent sanctions imposed by the European Union cannot be circumvented via Swiss territory".

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