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Fired Bank Guard May Need New Attorney in Switzerland

The Swiss bank guard who was fired after saving Holocaust-era documents from the shredder must now find a new lawyer.

Marcel Bosonnet resigned as Christoph Meili’s attorney last Friday.

“I am a lawyer and I will not allow anybody to make of myself a political pinball,” Bosonnet said in an interview.

Bosonnet’s move came after he lost direct contact with his client, who has been staying in the United States. He said he received instructions that all contacts must be carried out through Meili’s American attorney, Edward Fagan.

Fagan could not be reached for comment in New York.

Fagan is the lead attorney in a pending class-action lawsuit against Swiss banks for withholding funds from descendants of depositors who died in the Holocaust.

Meili still may need a lawyer in Switzerland because he faces possible charges on violating bank secrecy laws.

While working as a night guard at the Zurich branch of the Union Bank of Switzerland, he discovered in January sensitive Holocaust-era documents earmarked for the shredder.

He took the documents and gave some of them to the Swiss Jewish community because he thought they might relate to investigations into assets held by depositors who died in Nazi death camps.

Swiss law forbids the destruction of documents that might relate to World War II-era investigations.

Bank officials said at the time that Meili was fired not because he rescued the documents, but because he turned them over to a third party, which they said represented a possible violation of Swiss bank secrecy laws.

Zurich District Attorney Peter Cosandey has demanded that Meili return to Switzerland for questioning and has indicated that he might ask the United States for assistance.

But Meili enjoys broad support in the United States. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a measure in May to grant Meili permanent residency status, and the House is expected to pass a similar measure toward the end of the month.

“The case against Meili should have been closed a long time ago,” said Bosonnet, referring to proposed legislation to protect people who reveal secrets about bank accounts of Holocaust victims.

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