Sylvie Brunner from a skyscraper in Tehran: death of a top diplomat


Sylvie Brunner’s (51) life ends on Tuesday night in front of a dirty house wall in the Iranian capital Tehran. In the morning, the body of the diplomat from the Swiss embassy lies on the rough asphalt, poorly covered by a white tarpaulin, with banknotes lying around her. The circumstances of her death are mysterious.


A plastic tarpaulin covers the body of Sylvie Brunner († 51).  Banknotes are scattered on the floor next to it

A plastic tarpaulin covers the body of Sylvie Brunner († 51). Banknotes are scattered on the floor next to it Photo: private

So far, only one thing is clear: Sylvie Brunner fell from a 20-story skyscraper in the elegant Shemiran district of Tehran. The Iranian judicial authority published a brief statement. Accordingly, the woman fell from the 17th floor, where she lived, and her body was “found under her balcony”.


The top diplomat lived in this 20-story skyscraper in Tehran

The top diplomat lived in this 20-story skyscraper in TehranPhoto: AFP / Getty Images

A cleaner had found the body. Some passers-by had already thrown banknotes on the corpse: a gesture widespread in Iran among accident victims, which is intended to avert misfortune for the eyewitnesses.

At around 8 a.m., the property management alerted the police and emergency services. The emergency doctors called up found that the victim had been “dead for about eight hours”. That would mean that the crushed corpse had lain unnoticed in front of the building all night.

Sylvie Brunner’s domestic servant was in the apartment the same morning and told the Iranian newspaper “Hamshahri”: “I came at 8 o’clock, I know the code for the door. She was not there. I thought she was at work. ”

She started cleaning. She did not see a suicide note or anything else conspicuous. An hour later the police were at the door. “That’s when I found out. I was shocked.”

According to the police, officers allegedly found a suicide note on a table – without a signature, without a date. In the letter, Brunner is said to have regulated her estate. She would like a cremation in her home country.

Strange: The spokesman for the emergency services, Mojtaba Khaledi, stated that suicide “cannot be regarded as a cause”. Why is he so sure about that? Not clear.


The building of the Swiss embassy in Tehran

The building of the Swiss embassy in TehranPhoto: Embassy Tehran © FDFA

The staff of the diplomatic service in Iran are unsettled and shocked. Many valued Sylvie Brunner for her charming tenacity in negotiations. The Swiss woman has been working in the “Foreign Interests” department in her embassy for several years, where she was last headed.

Among other things, the section takes care of maintaining communication between Iran and the USA. Because the two countries officially have no diplomatic relations (see box). This gave her one of the most difficult and sensitive diplomatic posts in Iran.

Among other things, it was about American citizens who are imprisoned in Iran. Colleagues say that Sylvie Brunner “achieved a lot with her positive energy”. And: “She loved her job. “

The Swiss embassy confirmed the death of an employee who had died in a “fatal incident”. Switzerland is committed to “a comprehensive clarification of the circumstances”.

Switzerland’s special role in Iran

During the Islamic revolution, the then Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini called on his supporters on November 4, 1979 to storm the US embassy in Tehran.

Several hundred people then took the building. 52 diplomats were taken hostage, they were only extradited after 444 days. The hostage-taking was intended to force an extradition of Shah Reza Pahlavi, who had previously fled to America. In April 1980 the United States broke off all diplomatic relations with Iran.

That is why Switzerland has been representing the interests of US citizens in Iran as a protecting power since 1981.


Sylvie Brunner from a skyscraper in Tehran: death of a top diplomat
Photo: BILD

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