Perhaps shadows will rise again when on 6. May 33 new Swiss Guards take oath of service at Vatican. Man by man they will pledge allegiance to the Pope. A solemn day for all members of the papal guard force. But ten years ago, someone was missing from the ceremony: Commander Alois Estermann. He was dead, shot, and with him his wife Gladys Meza Romero and Vice-Corporal Cedric Tornay. The bloody deed of 4. May 1998 is still considered a traumatic event.
Contemporary witnesses find it closer than the historic disaster of the "Sacco di Roma" of 1527. At that time fell in defense of the pope against the mercenaries of Emperor Charles V. in a single day 147 guardsmen. That was a long time ago and honorable. But the attempt on the commander's life from their own ranks stained the tradition-proud image of the Swiss elite unit with its recreated Renaissance uniforms.According to the final Vatican report, it was the act of an aggrieved, mentally impaired soldier: According to the report, Tornay, a 23-year-old from the Valais, forced his way into the room shortly before 21:00 on that fateful evening.00 o'clock into the official residence of his superior and shot him and his wife, before he judged himself with his ordnance pistol. The reason: resentment over an award denied, frustration over Estermann's appointment, a burst career prospect in Switzerland. All this against a background of chronic hashish use, a cyst the size of a pigeon in the left forebrain, strong excitability, impaired judgment and immaturity of character.From 10 expert reports, 5 police reports, 38 interrogation protocols, the Vatican distilled a whole complex of reasons and backgrounds; a part of it would have sufficed for the explanation. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, rumors germinated: Tornay was alternately accused of an affair with Meza Romero or a homosexual liaison with the Guard commander; Estermann was said to have played a double role as a spy. Those left behind vigorously defended themselves against such speculation.
Conspiracy Theory Tornay's mother Muguette Baudat, however, had her doubts. The suicide note of her son was forged, she explained, and the autopsy findings also showed inconsistencies: The gun must have been forcibly put in Tornay's mouth. At the time of the head shot, he had already been knocked unconscious by a blow. After Baudat's capture, her son was to be held up as the culprit in a double murder whose true perpetrators were never found – because they did not want to be searched for.This conspiracy theory also got cracks. Nevertheless, the murdered commander's successor, Pius Segmuller, came to Tornay's mother's defense, saying she cared "like a normal mother" and that her motives should not be abused. With Segmuller, Elmar Mader was appointed as vice commander and Jean-Daniel Pitteloud as francophone officer in charge of the troops. All three came from outside; Vatican wanted thorough fresh start.
"For us internally, the process is closed" Mader, promoted to commander in 2002, steps down in summer. This makes the episode that the Guard calls a "dark cloud" even more distant. "For us internally, the process is closed," says Corporal Erwin Niederberger, press spokesman for the troops. Mader does not want to comment.People will celebrate a memorial mass at the Vatican for those who died back then; ex-guards also gather in Switzerland for a service.It is unlikely that a secular tribunal will once again take up the matter, as Tornay's mother continues to demand. For Tornay, it is true what Pope John Paul II said. said within days of the bloodshed: He has met his divine judge.