After consultations with Catholic and Protestant authorities, the Swiss canton of Glarus is to rehabilitate a woman executed in 1782 on witchcraft charges.
Anna Goeldi, the last witch executed in Europe should be rehabilitated because she was a victim of "judicial murder" more than 200 years ago, the government of the Swiss canton of Glarus said this week, PR Inside reports.
The 1782 execution of Anna Goeldi for an alleged case of poisoning was a miscarriage of justice, the cantonal government said. The decision to recommend rehabilitation came after a long debate in the eastern Swiss region and was taken in consultation with the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
The decision reverses the refusal last year by the cantonal government and the Protestant Church council to consider a rehabilitation. The government changed its view after the cantonal parliament urged it to reconsider.
The recommendation to acknowledge that Goeldi was unfairly prosecuted and not a witch goes back to the parliament for final approval.
Goeldi, a maidservant in the house of prominent burgher Johann Jakob Tschudi, was convicted of "spoiling" the family's daughter, causing her to spit pins and have convulsions.
Tschudi, a doctor and magistrate, was alleged to have had a love affair with Goeldi. Should his adultery have been made public, his reputation would have been seriously damaged.
Goeldi's trial and beheading in the village of Mollis was carried out at a time when witch trials had disappeared from most places in Europe.
The Protestant Church council, which conducted the trial, had no legal authority and had decided in advance that the woman was guilty, the government said. She was executed even though the law at the time did not impose the death penalty for non lethal poisoning, it added.
"This is to acknowledge that the verdict handed down came from a non legal trial and that Anna Goeldi was the victim of judicial murder," said a government statement.
Goeldi's torture and execution was even more incomprehensible as it happened in the Age of Enlightenment when "those who made the judgment regarded themselves as educated people," the government said.
But it noted the rehabilitation should not give the impression that today's generation assumes the responsibility for the history of the ancient villagers.
The case was brought to light through a book by local journalist Walter Hauser, who highlighted the links among Tschudi, Goeldi and the village authorities.
A museum on Goeldi was opened in Mollis in September on the 225th anniversary of her death.
Swiss proposed rehabilitating Europe's last executed witch (PR Inside, 10/6/08)
Switzerland to pardon Europe's last 'witch' (RIA Novosti, 10/6/08)